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What To Eat When You Have COVID

26 December 2022

At this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a few among us who have yet to fall foul to the illness. In many places, the novel coronavirus is now being treated more like a regular flu as we wait to see whether further waves of mutations will return the need for more stringent measures.

But even as pandemic measures loosen and restrictions are lifted, the disease itself has not become any less unpleasant. Like influenza, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by a virus, and causes the immune system to jump into action to fight the infection. As you’re most likely aware, the nastiest symptoms include high fever, muscle aches, coughing, tiredness, sore throat, and headaches - to name but a few.

If you do happen to come down with a mild case of SARS-CoV-2, make sure to isolate and give your immune system the best chance to fight the disease by getting ample rest and maintaining a healthy diet. Follow these tips to ensure you’re giving your body the best fighting chance.

Food and COVID-19

While research into the specific relationship between COVID-19 and certain foods is, of course, only in its infancy given how recently the disease emerged, there are foods known to improve the overall health of the immune system, therefore leaving the body more equipped to fight off intruders. During a bout of illness, nutritionists advise the following dietary practices:

Fruits and veggies

Ample fruits and vegetables are a cornerstone of a healthy diet - with or without COVID. Fruits and vegetables are particularly rich in all kinds of vitamins that are crucial for keeping our immune health in tip top condition. The most common micronutrients found in fruits and vegetables are vitamins A, C, and D as well as minerals like zinc and iron. The best fruits and vegetables for immune health include:

● Citrus fruits such as lemon, grapefruit, and orange

● Tomatoes

● Leafy greens like spinach and kale

● Sweet potatoes

● Bell peppers

● Garlic

● Carrots

● Broccoli

● Artichoke

● Peas

● Asparagus

● Berries such as blueberries and raspberries

● Garlic

● Avocados

Unprocessed grains

Whole grains are packed full of probiotic fibre which is essential for promoting healthy bacteria throughout the digestive system. Having a healthy internal balance of bacteria is a key aspect of immune balance and is associated with better response towards all kinds of illnesses. Healthy bacteria in the gut also helps to reduce inflammation and gastro-intestinal complaints.

If you’ve been struck by COVID-19, make sure to pack your diet full of rich, unprocessed grains. Oats, brown rice, quinoa, and barley all provide the amount of probiotic fibre you need to keep your digestive health and microbiome in check. Especially when you’re feeling under the weather, a warm bowl of porridge makes for the perfect source of both fibre and comfort, and is soft enough that it won’t aggravate a sore throat if you have one.

Protein

Most commonly, people associate protein intake with building strength and muscle. But, in fact, protein is the most basic building block of all of the cells in our body. This gives protein a uniquely important role in ensuring that the body can produce the cells that are needed to fight off diseases such as viruses. A lack of protein in one’s diet leads to a notably weaker immune system and prevents your body from being able to repair damage.

Protein is available from a wide variety of sources - so don’t worry about having to stick to lean cuts of chicken for the duration of your illness. The best sources of protein, which also include a variety of micronutrients, include:

● Spinach

● Lean beef

● Poultry such as chicken and turkey

● Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, and cashews,

● Beans

● Greek yoghurt

● White fish

● Tofu

● Lentils

● Chickpeas

● Peas

Hydration

Staying hydrated is an absolutely essential part of fighting off any disease. Especially if your COVID symptoms include high fever, it’s of utmost importance that you take care to consistently replace all the minerals lost via sweating throughout the duration of your battle with the illness. Even in times of perfect health, dehydration makes for a nasty experience, so this is the last thing you’ll want to find yourself suffering under in times of actual illness. Keep a tall bottle of water next to you as you fight off COVID to ensure that you have ample fluids to make a speedy recovery.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a cornerstone of a healthy immune system, with or without disease in the picture. Especially in cloudy places like the UK, squeezing in enough sunlight to get your fair share of vitamin D can be a challenge, to say the least. Fatty fish, seafood, mushrooms, and egg yolks are all excellent ways of adding more vitamin D to your diet. If you still struggle to get enough into your diet with these foods, taking a vitamin D supplement can also help to bolster your immune system.

If you lose your sense of taste and smell while battling COVID, as many do, you may feel less than inclined to eat or drink. While this urge is completely natural, it’s important to remember that a healthy diet and adequate hydration are the fuel your body needs to battle off any disease - including COVID-19.