Vitamin D to protein: The nutrition you need for quicker Covid-19 recovery
- Fiza Sait
Updated : February 18, 2022 20:02 IST
Covid-19 recovery may not be linear, but it can be enhanced with the help of nutrition. Here’s the diet you MUST follow!
For anyone hit by the dreaded virus, Covid-19 recovery has been an uphill task. Once a person is infected with Covid-19, the outcome and their recovery depend on the status of his or her immune system. The status of the immune system depends on various factors of the person’s health baseline that includes nutrition levels, metabolic balance, gut health, physical fitness, etc. Supporting one’s health baseline and Covid-19 recovery with effective nutrition, supplementation, and good lifestyle practices is crucial to also avoid long-term complications post-infection.
What is the role of nutrition in post-Covid recovery?
A large proportion of the population recovers fast from the Covid infection, and gets to a normal health baseline quickly. However, a certain population of the infected continue to experience post-Covid effects such as fatigue, chest discomfort, headache, and muscle pain, for about 12 weeks or more after they test negative.
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People who are recovering from Covid-19 tend to develop changes in their blood pressure, and sugar levels. They also develop breathing difficulties, weight loss, fatigue and other symptoms. They should seek medical care if the symptoms persist.
Studies have found that every individual needs a sufficient amount of macro and micronutrients to fortify the immune system. Vitamins like D, A, B6 and B12, C and E, as well as minerals like zinc, selenium, iron, and copper, along with amino acids, and the right combination of macronutrients including carbs, protein, and fat are essential to uplift the immune system. Among them, the status of vitamin D is more crucial for the enhancement of the immunity system’s performance.
However, symptoms like fatigue, lack of smell, and taste generates difficulties in food intake which eventually reduces the appetite in those who have suffered from Covid-19.
The link between vitamin D and Covid-19
Vitamin D is a micronutrient and a hormone that is partly produced by our body through cholesterol, while the other part is obtained from the diet. Low vitamin D status is associated with an increased risk of non-communicable diseases, as well as increased susceptibility to infectious diseases including respiratory tract infections like in Covid-19. Supporting the claim, a new scientific investigation found that about 80 percent of the people who were infected by the virus had vitamin D deficiency.
As the name ‘sunshine vitamin’ implies, vitamin D is obtained from sunlight by the skin. Fifteen minutes of morning sunshine per day is suggested by experts during the recovery period. While the sun is only half of the equation, food like mushrooms, fatty fishes, and egg yolk makes the other. Vitamin D can also be obtained from supplements, where the daily limit can be 400 IUs to 600 IUs.
Gut health and Covid-19
The gut is a host for trillions of microbes including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It houses both friendlies and enemies of the state like the coronavirus. After the infection, researchers have found that there was a reduction in friendly microbiome and abundance in unfriendly elements in the gut, which prolonging the Covid-19 recovery period.
The infection impairs the gut lining and triggers inflammation, along with other gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, nausea, and gas.
Post Covid-19 recovery guidelines
The idea of a healthy diet during Covid-19 recovery comprises the balance of all nutrients such as carbohydrates, sufficient protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals inclusive of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, along with hydration. However, seeking the assistance of a physician or nutritionist/dietician, before opting for any medical or diet practice is always advisable.
Here are some diet tips for Covid-19 recovery:
* Your top immunity booster should be vitamin D, sourced from sunlight, supplements, and healthy fats.
* Lemon, strawberries, oranges are great sources of vitamin C that plays a crucial role in building immunity.
* Obtain omega-3 fatty acids from fish, flaxseed, walnut, chia seed, and Zinc from beans, nuts, crab, legumes.
* Improve the gut health by adding probiotics like yoghurt, cultured buttermilk, collagen like bone broth, and chicken soup, along with a few prebiotics like psyllium husk, asparagus, garlic, artichoke, and potato starch.
* Incorporate iron-rich sources like dates, papaya, fig, moringa leaves, beef, chicken, to ward off fatigue.
* Include spices such as ginger and turmeric to reduce inflammation.
* Drink 8-10 glasses or up to 3 liters of water to ensure the body stays hydrated.
* Consume fruits daily including guava, apple, banana, strawberry, cantaloupe melon, grapefruit, pineapple, papaya, orange, blackcurrant with a serving size of two cups.
* Eat fresh vegetables such as green bell peppers, garlic, ginger, lime, coriander, broccoli, green chili pepper along with legumes like beans and lentils.
* Include whole grains and nuts like unprocessed maize, oats, wheat, millet, brown rice, or roots such as yam, potato, taro, or cassava to fulfill the fiber quotient and healthy fat ratio.
Things to be avoided during Covid-19 recovery
* Avoid processed meats as they are high in fat and salt.
* Eliminate trans fats entirely such as processed food, fast food, snack food, fried food, etc
* Stop smoking and drinking as it impairs the immune function system further.
Protein: The magic ingredient to boost immunity
When talking about nutrition and a healthy diet, protein receives a special mention, as they are responsible for immune cell production. Ideally, 0.8g – 1g/kg protein is recommended for the body. Starting with 1.3 g/kg/day and eventually increasing the supply will prevent muscle loss, and enhance the strength of respiratory muscles.
Whey protein is a great option to start with, since it is a complete protein source and helps in maintaining the immune cell structure. It also contains individual proteins like immunoglobulins and lactoferrins that further enhance the immune system.