March 2021 Issue

Editor’s Spot: Perfect Timing
By Judith Riddle
Today’s Dietitian
Vol. 23, No. 3, P. 6

The introduction of the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), published December 2020 by the USDA and Department of Health and Human Services, couldn’t have been released at a more perfect time. Many Americans have been clamoring to find out how to boost their immunity with healthful foods, regular physical activity, and nutritional supplementation in an effort to prevent COVID-19 infection first and chronic disease second.

The theme for the 2020–2025 DGAs, “Make Every Bite Count,” is quite apropos, as they’ve been expanded to help guide Americans of all ages and every season of life to eat more nutrient-dense foods from each food group to promote optimal health and prevent chronic disease.

The guidelines offer new recommendations for infants and toddlers and pregnant and breast-feeding women. What stood out to me the most were the recommendations to breast-feed infants exclusively for the first six months of life, and longer if desired, and introduce potentially allergenic foods and complementary foods at 6 months of age. Pregnant women are t eat the same foods as other age groups but focus more on nutrient density for fetal development and follow requirements for calorie needs for each trimester to manage weight. In addition, the DGAs provide four “overarching guidelines” that encourage healthful eating patterns for all ages and acknowledge that individuals will need to change their food and beverage choices to achieve a healthful diet pattern.

While the new DGAs are meant to guide Americans throughout their lives, they’re especially timely to inform clients about the most nutrient-dense foods they can eat to help boost their immunity during the pandemic. The guidelines don’t speak of COVID-19 specifically, but the nutrient-dense foods recommended in all food groups contain ample amounts of vitamins and minerals and phytochemicals that can aid in strengthening the immune system to help ward off infectious disease. To make it easy to follow the guidelines, the “Start Simple With MyPlate” app was developed to enable clients to track food intake and access healthful recipes and videos of cooking demos.

In this month’s issue, Today’s Dietitian examines the current research on the vitamins and minerals that may help boost immunity and prevent COVID-19 infection in the article, “COVID-19 and the Role of Micronutrients,” on page 30.

Also in this issue are articles on medicinal mushrooms, plant-based labels and certifications, and the flexitarian diet, plus our 12th annual TD10 feature (in honor of National Nutrition Month™ and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Day) that profiles the most dedicated and deserving dietitians you helped nominate. Please enjoy the issue!

— Judith Riddle, Editor