COVID- 19 Driving Interest in Immune Support
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
The COVID-19 pandemic has many consumers thinking about the relationship between nutrition and their immune system as media outlets and social posts offer details on various supplements and foods to support health during this crisis. Of course, not all information is accurate or from reliable sources. For retail dietitians, this is an opportune time to use your trusted expertise to communicate the connections between healthy food choices and immune function by providing guidance centered around the products in your store(s). It is especially important to focus on affordable ideas for those individuals who may be a high risk – low income shoppers, the elderly, and individuals with chronic diseases. Consider these ideas for providing meaningful solutions:
- Use a series in-store intercom messages to remind shoppers of the importance of being properly nourished to support a healthy immune system. Talk about specific nutrients like protein, vitamins A, C, E and zinc for example, and promote the foods that are a natural source of these nutrients such as fruits and veggies, lean protein and nuts.
- There is a solid link between gut health and a strong immune system. Direct shoppers to foods that can promote a healthy digestive system such as probiotic and prebiotic food sources. Highlight these foods on digital ads or provide information on pharmacy bags.
- Many families and individuals are struggling with finding healthy, affordable dinner ideas. Increase customer loyalty by providing a weekly dinner menu based on sale items. Promote the plan via social media or a weekly Facebook video demoing a quick recipe. Include budget-friendly private brand products.
- Provide signage in different departments to highlight the nutritional attributes of foods. For example, in the meat, poultry and seafood department, promote protein’s role in in the body's immune system, especially for healing and recovery, or talk about the abundance of phytochemicals found in produce.
- With kids at home many parents are looking for ways to involve them in food preparation. Write a blog for your website with healthy, fun recipes and/or provide a “kids in the kitchen” tip or recipe each week via social media and in your digital ad.
- Keep team members healthy by educating them on ways to prevent the spread of germs, along with promoting quick healthy meal and snack suggestions for work or home.
- Be prepared to answer questions or provide science-based resources regarding OTC preventive medicines, vitamins, and other supplements that are growing in popularity right now.
By offering relevant solutions to make your shopper’s daily lives a bit easier and healthier right now, they will remember the care and comfort you provided long after this crisis is over.