Pandemic Plates: Nutrition Experts Reveal Top Consumer Diet Changes Due to COVID-19

The global pandemic has changed all aspects of normal living, and ushered in an era where health and wellness are paramount decision drivers for the foreseeable future, especially when it comes to food and beverage choices. The 2021 Pollock Communications and Today’s Dietitian “What’s Trending in Nutrition” survey, with 1,165 registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs) responding, provides an in-depth look at how dietitians believe consumers’ diets have changed due to COVID-19. The health revolution has exploded as a result of the pandemic, with the top findings for 2021 revealing a focus on foods that support immunity and provide comfort, as well as a major shift in snacking habits. Changes to the top 10 superfoods list also indicate a move toward foods that are plant-forward and support health, with green tea, a natural anti-inflammatory beverage, jumping from #10 last year to the #3 spot this year, and nutrient-rich spinach and leafy greens making their debut on the list. As consumers continue to search for diets that promote well-being and longevity, intermittent fasting surpasses the ketogenic diet as the #1 diet trend dietitians predict for 2021, and RDNs forecast consumers will be on the hunt for natural, clean labels and ingredients like cannabidiol (CBD), collagen and hemp. Here’s a look at the full results.

COVID-19 Transformed the Way Consumers Eat and View Food

As a result of the pandemic, 78% of RDNs believe that consumer eating habits are shifting away from the traditional 3 meals a day to more frequent snacking. In addition, with anxiety about health, wellness and the challenging economy looming in consumers’ minds, RDNs predict the top purchase drivers of 2021 will be foods and beverages that:

  • Support immunity
  • Are affordable and value-based
  • Promote comfort and emotional well-being

Top 10 Superfoods for 2021

With COVID-19 accelerating the healthy food revolution, foods and beverages with strong health and wellness benefits, sometimes referred to as “superfoods,” have become dominant in consumer choices to help support immunity. From boosting gut health with fermented foods to reaping the benefits of antioxidants with blueberries and blunting inflammation with green tea, here are the top 10 superfoods that RDNs predict consumers will be seeking in 2021:

“A year full of staying home and cooking more has influenced consumers to rethink their food and nutrition choices. In 2020, the food and beverage industry saw sales increases in products like green tea, as well as renewed attention on comforting, tried and true foods like dairy milk and healthy, fermented foods like yogurt,” says Louise Pollock, President of Pollock Communications. “The plant-forward trend continues to grow, as does demand for clean labels. Our trends survey findings reflect these significant changes caused by COVID-19 that will continue to affect eating habits and the food industry for years to come.”

Intermittent Fasting Ousts King Keto as the #1 Diet Trend

COVID-19 has made consumers more aware than ever of how food affects their ability to help fight and prevent disease. With this knowledge, consumers are seeking out diets that will help promote a healthy immune system and help them live longer, healthier lives. Intermittent fasting, suggested to enhance cellular renewal, has pushed out the ketogenic diet as the nation’s top diet trend for 2021. It’s clear that consumers are being more mindful of their eating habits and realize that what they eat, or don’t eat, affects how they feel and how long they live. In addition, RDNs predict consumers will be looking for these top three popular ingredients in 2021 and beyond:

  • CBD
  • Collagen
  • Hemp

Top 5 Nutrition Recommendations from RDNs

Consistent with previous years, the 2021 survey showed that social media, friends/family, and celebrities remain the top sources of nutrition misinformation for consumers. And nutrition experts continue to stand by these tried and true health and wellness eating tips for 2021:

  • Eat more servings of vegetables per day
  • Limit highly processed foods or fast foods
  • Limit foods with “added sugars”
  • Increase fiber intake
  • Choose non-caloric drinks, like unsweetened tea and coffee

“We are witnessing unprecedented times in the world of nutrition, health and wellness,” says Mara Honicker, publisher of Today’s Dietitian. “As the world grapples with how to best manage health and longevity, consumer awareness of beneficial diets and ingredients is growing, and they will be looking to RDNs and the food industry to help navigate these shifting needs.”

Source: PR Newswire


Shark’s Fin Thick Soup Ramen of Bamiyan Japan

The price is 1,499 yen (tax included).

T Cells Come to the Rescue as Studies Show They Fight Omicron

Marthe Fourcade and Michelle Fay Cortez wrote . . . . . . . . .

An unsung arm of the immune system appears to protect against severe disease with the omicron variant even when antibodies wane, helping to explain why a record wave of infections hasn’t engulfed hospitals so far.

T cells, the body’s weapon against virus-infected cells, were primed enough by vaccination that they defended against omicron in separate studies from Erasmus University in the Netherlands and the University of Cape Town in South Africa.

The findings could help explain why the wave of omicron cases hasn’t so far caused a surge in mortality from South Africa to the U.S. and the U.K. Unlike antibodies, T cells can target the whole of the virus’s spike protein, which remains largely similar even in the highly mutated omicron.

The Dutch researchers looked at 60 vaccinated health-care workers and found that while their antibody responses to omicron were lower or nonexistent compared with the beta and delta variants, T cell responses were largely unaltered, “potentially balancing the lack of neutralizing antibodies in preventing or limiting severe Covid-19.”

The study from the University of Cape Town’s Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine looked at patients who had recovered from Covid or been vaccinated with shots from Pfizer Inc. and partner BioNTech SE or Johnson & Johnson. They found that 70% to 80% of the T cell responses they assessed held up against omicron.

Recent weeks have brought evidence that the new strain can erode vaccine protection, prompting governments to push for booster shots to raise the level of antibodies that can fight off the variant.

But immune protection has several layers. While antibodies block infection, T cells kill infected cells, preventing the virus from spreading and causing worse disease, Wendy Burgens, one of the University of Cape Town study authors, wrote on her Twitter account Virus Monologues. “They can’t prevent you from getting infected, but they can minimize the damage that comes afterwards,” she said.

T cells are white blood cells that can remember past diseases, kill virus-infected cells and rouse antibodies to marshal defenses. People infected with another coronavirus that was responsible for the SARS outbreak in 2003, for example, were found to still have a T-cell response to the disease 17 years later.

Source : BNN Bloomberg

Read more at The Conversation

Coronavirus: B cells and T cells explained . . . . .

N95 Masks: A Must-have With Omicron, But Fakes Abound

Steven Reinberg wrote . . . . . . . . .

You’re watching the Omicron variant race around the world and think it might be time to upgrade your mask to a gold-standard N95 or K-N95 model. A quick search on Google should find you one, right?

Not so fast, experts say.

According to Anne Miller, executive director of the nonprofit group Project N95, the masks that offer the most protection are indeed the N95 and the K-N95 — both are approved by the U.S. government to block 95% of the new coronavirus.

But she warned that there are lots of counterfeits out there.

The U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) tests masks to be sure they meet the standards for what’s called “filtration rate,” she explained. As the pandemic began, lots of masks were submitted to NIOSH for approval as companies sought to cash in on surging demand.

Only a few succeeded.

“Some of those masks were like 20% filtration,” Miller noted. In fact, “over 60% of the masks that were submitted did not pass NIOSH tests — they did not perform,” she said.

“From my perspective as a consumer, I don’t want to shell out my money and get something that I think is protecting me that isn’t and then I have a false sense of security — and then I get sick,” Miller added.

That doesn’t mean that all imported N95 and the K-N95 masks are junk. But they all have to meet NIOSH standards, Miller said.

Check the numbers

To be sure that any masks you buy is authentic, Miller advises consumers to look for the TC number on N95 masks. “It says TC – and then three more digits and then two digits and also a lot number,” she said. Real N95 masks also come with a head strap.

For K-N95 masks, Miller said the mask should say: “GB 2626 – 2019 then a space and then K-N95. If it does not have that printed on the face of the mask, it is not made to the standard.”

Also, the mask should have a brand name on it, Miller said. “When you see a mask that just says K-N95 and no brand, you have no way to know who actually produced it, and that is not good.”

Are there other warning signs that a mask might be fake?

Miller said one surefire clue is if the labeling claims the mask is FDA-approved or it’s registered with the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).

“If you see the FDA logo on the box, if you see somebody marketing their product as FDA-approved, that is almost a guarantee that it is a substandard or counterfeit product,” Miller said in a statement. “If you’re registered, you’ve paid $5,400 to be registered, and that’s it … the FDA website says that registration does not connote any sort of approval.”

Also watch out for a mask with no markings at all, no NIOSH markings or NIOSH is spelled incorrectly, decorative fabrics and any claims of NIOSH approval for children (NIOSH does not approve respiratory products for kids).

Cost not a factor

Miller stressed that price is not an indicator as to whether a mask is the real thing or not: High-grade masks do not have to be expensive.

“You can buy a U.S.-made N95, NIOSH-rated respirator for 60 or 75 cents, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money,” she said.

It is important to change masks often, as they wear out and become less effective, Miller said. For most people, it’s good to have several masks that can be rotated. Each mask is good for approximately 40 hours of wear, Miller said.

The trick with N95 and K-N95 masks is maintaining a good seal. Many people may find an N95 uncomfortable, so they may be better off with a K-N95, which has ear loops and may be easier to tolerate.

“They’re not designed for comfort,” Miller said. “They’re designed for performance.”

Fit is key

As for other masks, such as cloth ones, Miller says they can be used over a high-grade mask as a fashion statement or to keep a mask clean, but they really don’t offer enough a lot of protection by themselves.

The best way to be sure you’re getting a good mask is to buy them from a reliable source, Miller said.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, a clinical professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, stressed that “masks are not the end-all and be-all of protection.”

They can help ward off infection, but they need to be worn properly and changed frequently. “By worn properly, I mean a tight fit over the nose,” Siegel said.

He acknowledged that N95 masks can be uncomfortable to wear and difficult to use, but K-N95 or N95 masks do offer the best protection.

“When we say up your mask game, that means going to a K-N95 or an N95,” Siegel said.

Source: HealthDay

Crispy Skin Trout with Watercress and Radish Salad


2 teaspoons wasabi paste
sea salt flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 x 150 g ocean trout fillets, skin on
3 cups watercress sprigs
10 radishes, trimmed and very thinly sliced

Lemon-soy Dressing

2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely grated ginger


  1. Make the lemon-soy dressing. Whisk together the lemon juice, sesame oil and ginger.
  2. Cook the trout. Mix together the wasabi, salt and olive oil and brush over the fish.
  3. Preheat a non-stick frying pan over high heat. Add the trout, skin-side down, and cook for 5-6 minutes or until the skin is golden and crisp.
  4. Turn the fish and cook for 1 minute or until cooked to your liking.
  5. Combine the watercress and radish and divide among serving plates. Add the trout and spoon over the dressing to serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Fast, Fresh, Simple

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