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Nutrition and COVID-19 Infection

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Nutrition and COVID-19 Infection

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Nutrition plays an essential role in COVID-19. Read this article to know more.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Chithranjali Ravichandran

Published At May 4, 2021
Reviewed AtApril 18, 2023

Introduction:

Coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID 19 is a contagious viral infection caused by an enveloped virus with the RNA genome. It causes illness ranging from asymptomatic to life-threatening condition with more complications, especially in patients with comorbid illness like uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, uncontrolled hypertension, cardiorespiratory diseases, cancer patients, transplant patients, patients on immunosuppressive treatment due to various causes like autoimmune disorders. In this pandemic like COVID-19, good nutrition and good hydration plays an essential role.

Does Nutrition Play a Role in Fighting Against Covid-19?

Many research articles state that consuming a good nutritious diet and staying hydrated tend to keep our body healthy with good immune function and lower the risk of developing a severe form of COVID infection and post COVID complications. Eating food rich in various vitamins, minerals, immunoglobulin, dietary fiber helps our body system to fight against various pathogenic microbes efficiently. Staying hydrated by drinking enough water helps in overcoming fluid loss during episodes of fever and thin out respiratory secretions.

What Is the Role of Vitamins in Fighting Against COVID-19?

Vitamin A

Vitamin A plays a key role in the production, maturation, and differentiation of various immune cells of the human body. It has been shown to be protective in preventing pneumonia and reducing the severity of pneumonia caused by viral agents.

Vitamin A-rich food includes milk, eggs, cod liver oil, yogurt, carrot, papaya, mango, watermelon, almond, hazelnut, avocado, and kiwi.

Vitamin C

COVID 19 infection leading to oxidative stress generates free radicals and cytokines, leading to various organ damage and subsequent organ failure. Antioxidants help to counteract oxidative stress and repair cell damage to a certain extent. There are various research articles stating the use of vitamin C in the treatment of ARDS in SARS CoV 2 infection. Vitamin C also helps in improving the oxygenation index in patients with COVID infection.

Vitamin C-rich food includes strawberries and blackcurrants, citrus fruits such as lemon, orange, sweet lemon. Other foods include broccoli, potatoes, and brussels sprouts.

Vitamin D

In various studies, metabolites of Vitamin D are known to attenuate various organ injuries like acute lung injury resulting from hyper inflammation. The lower level of circulating Vitamin D is associated with a poor prognosis in patients suffering from COVID infection. Some of the food which are rich in vitamin D are cod liver oil, egg yolk, mushroom, etc.

Vitamin B12

Cobalamin – It is known that SARS-Cov-2 infection affects vitamin B12 metabolism, causing elevated oxidative stress and lactate dehydrogenase, coagulation cascade activation, hyperhomocysteinemia, vasoconstriction, and renal and pulmonary vasculopathy. It is also noted that B12 deficiency during the COVID-19 illness can result in disorders of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and central nervous systems. Some of the food items which are rich in vitamin B12 include milk, meat, fish, and egg.

Vitamin B6

Pyridoxine – It acts as the most important cofactor in various inflammatory pathways, and its deficiency is known to cause immune dysregulation. Immune dysregulation increases the risk of coagulopathy in patients with COVID-19 infection. Vitamin B6 helps regulate immune response, reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines, maintain the integrity of endothelium, and prevent hypercoagulability.

Some of the food which are rich in vitamin B6 includes peanuts, soya beans, wheat germ, oats and fruit like banana.

Vitamin B9

Folic Acid – An essential vitamin that is required for a good acquired immune response. The acquired immune response is essential for faster viral clearance.

Some of the vitamin B9 rich foods are green leafy vegetables, chickpeas, kidney beans, and broccoli.

What Is the Role of Minerals in Fighting Against COVID-19?

IRON

It is an essential mineral, which plays an essential role in carrying oxygen in the hemoglobin of our red blood cells. Iron also helps in the removal of carbon dioxide. Those with iron deficiency are more prone to severe COVID infection and its complications. Thereby it is essential to include food rich in iron in our daily diet. Food rich in dietary iron includes red meat, beans, dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, raisins, apricot, peas, liver, etc.

ZINC

One of the essential minerals, which plays a key role in enhancing antiviral immunity, both humoral and innate immunity. There are many research articles supporting the evidence of zinc in enhancing interferon production, which helps in antimicrobial immunity and suppression of tumor necrosis factor, which helps in suppressing severe inflammation and avoiding inflammation-mediated damages to our body cells. It also helps in repairing cell damage caused by a virus and associated inflammation. Some of the food rich in zinc are oysters, lobsters, pumpkin seeds, kidney beans, almonds, cashews, cheese, mushrooms, chickpeas, and lentils.

Role of Flavonoids

Flavonoids, nothing but polyphenolic secondary metabolites found mainly in plants and thus commonly consumed through plant-based foods. As per various studies, Flavonoids are considered as potential immune regulators which help in attenuating hyper inflammation-induced due to various pathophysiology, including COVID infection. Flavonoids are also considered as a potential element to modulate immune deregulation and modulate inflammatory signals. Flavonoids containing foods include green tea, parsley, blueberries, cocoa, black tea, peanuts, grapefruit, garlic, and ginger.

Role of Egg

Eggs are a rich source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phosphoprotein like phosvitin, immunoglobulins like immunoglobulin Y, which helps our body to overcome oxidative stress, support the immune system, enhance cell repair, enhance viral clearance, enhance neutralizing antibody response, thereby improving the prognosis and recovery.

Role of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber are a non-digestible part of food material. It plays an indirect role in maintaining a good gut microbial flora or microbiota. It plays an essential role in maintaining good cell integrity and protection against inflammatory damages, especially in the gastrointestinal tract. It helps in improving gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea seen in many patients with COVID infection. Some of the food items such as potatoes with skin, banana, beans, cucumber, apple, broccoli, carrot are rich sources of dietary fiber.

Role of Water

Consumption of adequate water helps in a good digestion process, good blood circulation throughout the body, reducing congestion, maintaining all-over healthy body physiology. Micronutrients present in food and good hydration play a pivotal role in preventing COVID infection, reducing the severity of illness, reducing the complications, improving the prognosis and recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

How Can Nutrition Help During COVID-19?

Eating healthy and drinking plenty of water helps fight diseases and improves the body’s immune system, which protects the body from many infections. Covid-19 is a viral infection that weakens the affected person’s immune system. Hence, eating good nutrition during the covid-19 illness is essential to overcome the disease. Eating healthy food and taking more fluids to help fight the disease and support the immune system.

2.

What Measures Are to Be Taken Regarding Diet During COVID?

- Proper nutrition, which involves a balanced diet and hydration, plays a key role in fighting covid-19. Reduce foods like red and fatty meats, butter, oils like palm oil, coconut oil, and dairy products, and avoid trans fats. The following should be avoided during COVID.
- Avoid packed and processed foods that are high in salt.
- Avoid excess saturated fats- only 10 % saturated fat may be taken during covid-19.
- Avoid coffee, tea, or caffeinated fizzy drinks- these cause dehydration.
- Avoid habits like consuming alcohol and smoking habit.
- Avoid improper snacking.

3.

What Actions Can Help Improve the Immune System to Avoid COVID?

The immune system can be improved by 
- Having a good sleep every day as healing occurs during sleep.
- Lowering the stress level and managing the stressful situation help in improving the immune system. Especially during covid-19 pandemic, stress levels should be managed really well.
- Eating a balanced diet and having good hydration helps in attaining good immunity and also boosts the immune system to prevent and fight infections.

4.

Which Nutrients Are to Be Incorporated Into the Diet During COVID-19 Quarantine?

Nutritional recommendations for covid-19 quarantine include good nutrition containing fresh fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. These must include vitamins like A, B, C, and D and also include minerals like selenium, zinc, and iron, as well as omega-3 fatty acids (good fat). Avoid foods rich in sugar, salt, caffeine, and alcohol. The diet should be balanced with all essential nutrients that boost the immune system, which in turn helps fight covid-19.

5.

Which Are the Actions to Be Followed During COVID?

Things that help fight covid-19 are
- The daily routine includes showering, dressing neatly, and keeping things hygienic.
- Keeping away from social media and television news, especially about covid-19.
- Eating healthy food that includes all the essential nutrients and drinking plenty of water and fluids.
- Being physically active by doing simple exercises and walking.
- Having good and sufficient sleep.
- Avoiding bad habits like consumption of alcohol, using drugs, and tobacco.

6.

Which Fruits Are to Be Consumed During COVID?

Almost all fruits contain vitamin C. This help in improving the immune system of the body. Fruits that are good for COVID are oranges, green grapes, apples, clementines, kiwis, berries, bananas, and pepper fruits.

7.

How Does Oatmeal Help During COVID?

COVID-affected individuals should consume easily digestible food that is gentle on their 
system. Oatmeal is a beneficial option for COVID patients as it is both easy to consume 
and digest.

8.

How Much Time Is Required for the Omicron Variant to Exhibit Symptoms?

Omicron variant symptoms appear much earlier than other variants of COVID-19. It may take the duration of one week to three days or even lesser than three days for symptoms to appear.

9.

Whether Exercise Can Be Done During COVID?

Keeping active and being away from bed rest help an individual to recover physically as well as mentally. But individuals having persistent symptoms should limit activity up to a maximum of 60 % of the heart rate till symptoms are resolved, and this may take two to three weeks. Intense cardiovascular exercises must be avoided among all affected individuals for three months.

10.

Which Vitamins Are to Be Incorporated Into the Diet of an Individual With COVID?

If an individual is affected by COVID, that person is advised to eat a healthy diet that contains all the essential nutrients in adequate amounts. This diet is also incorporated vitamins and minerals. The following vitamins and minerals that help in fighting covid-19 are vitamins B, C, D, A, B-12, B-6, E, folate, and minerals like iron, selenium, and Zinc.

11.

What Measures Are to Be Taken to Increase the Antibodies in an Individual?

- Increasing antibodies means enhancing the immune system of the body. Leading a healthy lifestyle helps an individual to prevent many lifestyle diseases. Practicing a healthy routine also helps in enhancing immunity. 
- Eating healthy and drinking plenty of water -Includes multiple nutrients.
- Being physically active helps in getting good sleep, feeling better, and decreasing stress levels.
- Obesity (excess weight) may affect many of the body functions. Hence a healthy weight should be maintained to carry out normal functions of the body in a healthy way.
- Practicing to have good sleep may improve immunity.
- Habits like smoking may cause many immune-related diseases. Hence quitting such habits help improve the immune system.

12.

What Actions Are Essential to Reduce COVID Inflammation?

COVID-19 inflammation may be reduced by doing activities that increase the immunity of the body. Early measures like exercise and activity play a role in recovering from inflammation, restoring the mind, and soothing emotions. Yoga, therapy, meditation, and acupuncture are proven to reduce the inflammation of COVID-19.

13.

How Much Time Does It Take To Recover From COVID?

Recovery of Individuals affected by COVID-19 may vary from one to another. Some of the individuals get better within a few days to a few weeks of their first symptoms, and they get recovery after 12 weeks. Among a few individuals, symptoms may last for a longer duration which is known as long COVID or post-COVID-19 syndrome.

14.

How Can the Immune System Be Improved After COVID Recovery?

After recovery from COVID-19, an individual should try to attain and maintain a good immune system. This can be done by following a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthy, regular exercise, reducing stress levels, drinking more fluids and water and getting hydrated, having good sleep, and maintaining a healthy weight.

15.

Can Broccoli be Considered Good for COVID?

Yes, broccoli is found to be good, and it helps in reducing the symptoms when taken as a supplement. When taken regularly in the diet, it improves the resiliency of the body to infection; when taken as a supplement that has glucoraphanin, found to reduce the symptoms fast for a duration of 6 to 12 hours by repeated dosing.
Source Article IclonSourcesSource Article Arrow
Dr. N. Ashok Viswanath
Dr. N. Ashok Viswanath

Infectious Diseases

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