NutraChampion podcast Episode 14
LISTEN: Developing functional foods important in the fight against COVID-19 – Philippines’ ex-nutrition policymaker
Dr Mario Capanzana, who retired in August 2020 as the director of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) - part of the country’s Department of Science and Technology (DOST) – is the guest on our 14th Nutrachampion podcast.
He was one of the key figures that put together the country’s Food Fortification Act of 2000.
Back then, the aim was to provide a solution for low vitamin A, iodine, and iron status, which are factors linked to anaemia and other health problems.
New challenges have surfaced every now and then and the latest one is about improving nutritional status amid COVID-19.
In this case, he initiated the idea of ‘Enhanced Nutribun’ to ensure that school-going children can enjoy nutritious foods, in accordance to the “Implementation of the Supplementary Feeding Program During Community Quarantine.”
The ‘Enhanced Nutribun’ contains more micronutrients such as iron and vitamin A.
In the same vein, he believes that the way forward is to develop functional foods with health benefits, since maintaining immune health is important amid COVID-19.
“With this pandemic situation, it [functional food] is a very important field that will help improve nutrition and prevent this pandemic from further spreading.
“Humans should have a very good immune system, while waiting for the vaccine…To have a very good immune system, one should have a very good nutrition, a very good food intake that will help you become healthy,” he said.
In this regard, he said that the country has been exploring products such as virgin coconut oil and its effects of COVID-19 patients.
Being part of the research team prior to his retirement, he said the next step of the research was to enlarge its samples size.
Listen to find out more about his career.