Fatigue, heart palpitations, brain confusion, and breathing issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, those are only a few of the typical signs of “long Covid,” which can continue to harm individuals even after they have recovered from infection.
Long Covid still has a lot to be discovered. Long Covid cannot be cured, but eating the appropriate foods can help those who have it cope, according to specialists who spoke with CNBC Make It.
Symptoms are only “half of the picture,” says Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, head of the Covid Activity Rehabilitation Program at the Mayo Clinic.
“How those symptoms impact a person’s capacity to live their lives is the other half of the story. Unfortunately, long-haul COVID symptoms can be fairly severe.
Vanichkachorn said that more than a third of Mayo Clinic patients with long-term COVIDS experience difficulty with some of life’s most fundamental functions, including dressing, taking a shower, and eating.
The clinical professor of nutrition at Boston University, Dr. Joan Salge Blake, described it as “simply a lousy movie that we still don’t know the finish too.”
“Heart disease, certain cancers … you can fight all of those diseases with a knife and a fork. That is empowering because you have control of what’s on your plate and what you eat”.
In essence, Long Covid refers to post-infection symptoms that may persist for weeks, months or even years after a person has tested negative for Covid-19. It may also be referred to as chronic Covid or post-Covid problems.
There is still much to learn about long-term Covid, according to the experts who spoke with CNBC Make It, but diet is key.
Heart disease, several malignancies, stroke, and type 2 diabetes can all be treated with a knife and fork, according to Blake.
You have control over what is on your plate and what you eat, so that is empowering.
CNBC Make It investigates what you should and shouldn’t be eating to help those who are looking for strategies to manage the symptoms of long-term COVID.
1. Mediterranean diet
Both Vanichkachorn and Blake emphasized the value of a balanced diet, focusing on the Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts, and whole grains. They claim that this diet is good for overall health.
According to Blake, fruits and vegetables in particular are “powerhouses” of vitamins and minerals.
Vanichkachorn added that fish and chicken are fine choices, but that doesn’t imply skipping meat or protein.
Poor protein [intake] can contribute to weariness, which is the one thing you don’t want since Covid will make you feel tired, continued Blake. If you don’t get enough protein in your diet, it won’t help.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in abundance in fatty fish like tuna and salmon, which can benefit cardiovascular health.
But ultimately, rather than concentrating on “superfoods,” Blake added, the focus should be on developing a well-rounded “super diet.” Superfoods are foods that are high in healthy components like fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants.
It’s a fantastic diet that will aid you in the battle against chronic illnesses. Your best defense will be when all the vitamins and minerals are working together.
2. Beware of vitamin deficiencies
Although specific vitamins have not been proven to be effective in the treatment of long-term Covid, Vanichkachorn emphasized the significance of treating vitamin deficiencies.
For instance, he explained, a lack of vitamin B12 can cause symptoms like exhaustion, breathlessness, and mental confusion.
Iron-containing minerals are also crucial. According to a new study, those with lengthy COVID may experience issues with how their bodies use and store iron.
Anemia and weariness are two of the many signs of iron deficiency. Deficiency can result from a variety of factors, such as inadequate intake, but it can also be linked to chronic conditions, according to Vanichkachorn.
He did, however, advise against taking vitamin or mineral supplements without first consulting a doctor.
The first thing to do, he advised, “if you are concerned about vitamin or mineral shortages, is to speak to your medical physician.”
3. Stay hydrated
Vanichkachorn emphasized the need of maintaining proper hydration for all Covid patients.
“When people have acute COVID, they frequently spend a lot of time relaxing and sleeping. Their hydration is severely affected, which affects their nutrition, he continued.
Dehydration can make anyone miserable if left untreated, not only individuals dealing with long-haul COVID.
“If plain water is too boring, you can also add a piece of fruit such as lemon or lime to help with the taste”.
Vanichkachorn advised patients with lengthy Covid to carry a bottle with them since she recognized that patients frequently needed reminders to stay hydrated.
He continued, “If plain water is too bland, you can also add a piece of fruit to help with the taste, like a lemon or lime. Staying hydrated can be greatly simplified by making these few modifications.
4. What to stay away from
According to Vanichkachorn, acute Covid can create “quite considerable inflammation” in the body, therefore it’s best to avoid anything that would make it worse.
“We have observed some inflammatory markers to be raised in this patient cohort [affected by extended Covid].” According to him, immune system abnormalities, possibly even autoimmune conditions, are the likely secondary cause of the inflammation.
Inflammation might get worse if you consume red meat and processed foods like sweet drinks and desserts.
I tell my patients that since we are all only human, it’s good to indulge in treats once in a while. However, I would continue to regard such things as such—a pleasure rather than a regular meal—Vanichkachorn remarked.