COVID-19 has been here for a long time and will probably stay for a while now. Post recovery complications in survivors of the Covid-19 infection is what is the next alarming issue after the mortality rate. When patients who have revived from Covid-19 infection continue to experience the same symptoms of the disease even after four weeks of initial recovery, this situation is referred to as “Long Covid” or “Long-Haul Covid” where patients exhibit Post-Covid complications.
Since Covid-19 infection can affect your vital health in the long run, following a healthy diet post-recovery can lessen the complication. Taking supplements and other medicines to cope up with the required nutrition is a common notion. But did you know? All of these nutritious foods are available right in the Indian diet, where its natural form becomes its plus point.
Nutritionist Ankita Vaidya recommends 6 essential nutrients your body requires Post-Covid and also names some of the types of food you can naturally absorb these nutrients from.
1. The perfect portion of Proteins
Your body needs protein to help build and repair muscle, skin, and other body tissues. Protein also helps fight infection, balance body fluids, and carry oxygen through your body. Amino acid chains form protein and peptides which make the body’s hormones such as insulin, glucagon, antidiuretic hormone, growth hormone, etc. They also transmit information between your cells, tissues, and organs & regulates metabolism.
Role of Proteins-
One of the complications of COVID-19 involves the so-called cytokine storm, a hyper-inflammatory response caused by the over-release of cytokines that often results in multi-organ dysfunction and death. In addition to anti-inflammatory and antiviral drugs, amino acids can play a role in mitigating the release of cytokines, thus decreasing overall mortality.
Glutamine may help to preserve lung and intestinal function and can reduce the amount of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Proteins protect the body against muscle loss and repair the damage done to the muscles and tissues and boosts the immune system simultaneously.
Arginine and glycine may reduce the number of certain inflammatory agents in the alveoli, thus limiting damage to the lungs.
Complete proteins contain all essential amino acids which exert an anti-inflammatory effect.
Protein deficiency decreases viable immunoglobulins and gut-associated lymphoid tissue which increases susceptibility to viral infections by decreasing the antibody response. Thus, protein is paramount.
Did you know?
The nutrition guidelines for protein consumption for the average, healthy adult are 0.8- grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (0.4-0.5 grams per pound).
The recommended daily intake for a person who performs a lot of aerobic endurance training is 1.0-1.6 grams/kilogram of body weight (0.5-0.7 grams/pound).
For those who do a lot of strength training, consuming 1.4-1.7 grams/kilogram of body weight (0.6-0.8 grams/pound) will support muscle protein synthesis.
2. Consider Carbohydrates carefully
Carbohydrates being in the top 3 essential nutrients, your body breaks them down into glucose- the main source of energy for your body's cells, tissues, and organs. Adequate fiber intake (25–35 g/day) may help reduce gut inflammation that is generally caused by infection.
Role of Carbohydrates-
Fibrous foods have been related to lower levels of inflammatory cytokines (CRP, TNF-α, and IL-6) and enhanced levels of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
Fiber also helps to eliminate toxins from our body proving to be a natural detoxifier.
Fiber acts as prebiotics and provides fuel for good bacteria in your gut and supports immune health by regular bowel movements and good digestive health.
As fatigue is most commonly observed in Covid and Post Covid infection, adding simple carbs like jaggery, honey, rice, fruits can combat fatigue.
Adding complex carbs helps to supply a steady flow of glucose, which in turn will help to sustain energy throughout and also regulate blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity.
Having a good amount of carbs also helps to spare our stored protein to be used as energy and prevent muscle loss.
Complex carbs are also a good source of B-complex, Zinc, Selenium, Phosphorus, Folate, Magnesium, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, and Antioxidants.
3. Fulfill your Fats’ need
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are essential because your body cannot produce them on its own. Thus, they must come from your diet. The two primary EFAs are known as linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).
Role of EFA-
Form healthy cell membranes.
Proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system
Regulation of blood pressure, liver function, immune and inflammatory responses.
Support healthy skin and hair.
Among lipids, the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can inactivate enveloped viruses by modulating the optimal host lipid conditions for viral replication.
On the other hand, EPA and DHA inhibit cyclooxygenase enzymes (COX) and, thus, may help suppress prostaglandin (pro-inflammatory) production.
Polar lipids, such as phospholipids, glycolipids or sphingolipids (also present in food sources of omega 3 fatty acids, such as fish and fish oils) have the ability to block platelet-activating factor (PAF) as well as its receptor, exerting anti-inflammatory effects that may be beneficial in COVID-19.
SCFAs (acetate, propionate, and butyrate) have a direct anti-inflammatory effect by inhibiting the release of pro-inflammatory molecules. They also play an important role in the maintenance of an adequate gut microbiota by increasing the diversity.
4. Pat on Pre & Pro-biotics
Due to medicinal overload and loss of appetite in most of the covid cases gut health is affected. Hence eating the right balance of pre-and probiotics is very crucial to maintain the gut micro-flora.
Role of Pro-biotics-
Help in vitamin synthesis.
Improve mucosal immunity and boost immune function.
Help in decreasing symptoms of depression.
Decrease gut infections and reduce allergic reactions.
5. Add anti-inflammatory & immune-boosting foods
Clearly to boost the hampered immunity and reduce the inflammation caused by the infection.
Foods to incorporate-
Pineapple serves 131% vitamin C & 76% Magnesium. Its enzyme Bromelain breaks protein molecules into amino acids & aids digestion. It also reduces blood clots thus, proves to be a natural blood thinner.
Turmeric with its Curcumin a potent bioactive compound holds Detox & Anti-inflammatory properties & also serves as an anti-coagulant.
Garlic aids in digestion, helps in nausea & vomiting & reduces cough, and gives strength to the lungs.
Ginger helps to regulate blood pressure, serves as anti-thrombotic agent & natural anti-biotic. It contains salicylic acid which is a potent blood thinner.
Broccoli provides almost 135% of our recommended dietary allowance with 14% of Folate & 116% of Vitamin K. It has Glucoraphanin which converts into Sulforaphane, a potent anti-oxidant during digestion. It also contains Lecithin and Zeaxanthin that prevent oxidative stress and cellular damage to our eyes. It also contains Kaempferol, a flavonoid that has an inflammatory effect. Sulforaphane also supports brain function & slowdowns mental decline.
Avocado is an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, B-complex, Magnesium, Folate, Potassium, Zinc, Iron, Phosphorus. It is also a great source of Anti-oxidants.
Green tea boosts immunity, improves metabolism, relieves joint pains and headache, reduces anxiety, nausea and promotes healthy sleep.
Berries contain anti-oxidants & also improve blood glucose level which is the most common problem seen Post Covid. They have soluble fibers and provide almost 35% vitamin C.
Cinnamon relieves digestive discomfort, has pre-biotic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant & anti-inflammatory properties.
6. Hop on Hydration
Water is the world’s foremost medicine. So keep yourself well hydrated always!
Drink water (at least one sip every 30 mins)
Have liquids in the form of Chaas, Infused Water, Juices, etc.
It is a crucial aspect of proper digestion and improved metabolism.
It is the quintessential medium for carrying all the vital nutrients (mentioned above) across the body.
As the Brain function gets hampered during Covid, there are 3 natural healers given by Ayurveda-
Consuming these can give you immense benefits. To know ways to consume these traditional herbs, read one of the previous blog - https://www.thenthsense.com/post/every-grandma-s-secret-herbs-seeds-by-ankita-vaidya
I hope these details have highlighted the importance of adding all these nutrients especially after recovering from Covid-19 as the amount of all of them gets hampered and your body needs even extra care later. Thus, a balanced diet is crucial to regain health after recovery from Covid-19 infection. It is vital to keep in mind that most COVID-19 patients recover rapidly. However, because of the long-term consequences of the infection, it is even more critical to consider the little yet important aspect- The Diet.
If you have some concerns and want to know more about these diet tips, feel free to book an appointment with our compassionate nutritionist Ankita.
Take care, Eat healthy, Stay Safe.
Stay tuned to Nth Sense for more such health information.
Nutritionist, Post-Graduation in FOOD SCIENCE and DIETETICS