Nutrition plays an essential role in COVID-19. Read this article to know more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last reviewed at:
04 May 2021 - 4 min read
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