Tuesday, September 27

Struggling with long Covid? Here’s what you should and should not eat


Fatigue, brain fog, heart palpitations and breathing difficulties.

Those are just some of the common symptoms of “long Covid” that can affect people in the long term after recovery from infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

However, according to Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Covid Activity Rehabilitation Program, symptoms are only “half of the picture.”

“The other half is how those symptoms affect a person’s ability to live their lives. Unfortunately, the symptoms of long-haul COVID can be quite limiting.”

He added that over a third of Mayo Clinic’s patients with long Covid report having troubles with some of the most basic activities of life, such as getting dressed, showering, and eating.

“It’s just a bad movie that we still don’t have the ending for,” said Dr. Joan Salge Blake, Boston University’s clinical professor of nutrition.

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.

Dr Joan Salge Blake

Clinical professor, Boston University

Long Covid is essentially post infection conditions that could linger for weeks, months or years — long after a person tests negative for Covid-19. It can also be referred to as post-Covid conditions or chronic Covid.

Experts who spoke to CNBC Make It said there’s still a lot to learn about long Covid, but nutrition plays a vital role in feeling better.

“Heart disease, certain cancers, stroke and type two diabetes … you can fight all of those diseases with a knife and a fork,” said Blake.

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“That is empowering because you have control of what’s on your plate and what you eat.”

CNBC Make It finds out what you should and shouldn’t eat if you think you have long Covid.

1.Mediterranean diet

A Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts and whole grains.

Cristina Pedrazzini/science Photo Library | Science Photo Library | Getty Images

Blake added, “Poor protein [intake] can contribute to fatigue, and that’s the one thing you don’t want because Covid is going to give you fatigue … it sure isn’t going to help if you don’t have enough protein in your diet.”

Fatty fish, like tuna and salmon, is a good source of omega-3 acids, which can improve cardiovascular health.

But ultimately, the focus should be building a well-rounded “super diet,” instead of focusing on “superfoods,” Blake said. Superfoods are those rich in antioxidants, fiber and fatty acids, which are beneficial for health.

“It’s a super diet that will help you fight chronic diseases. When all the vitamins and minerals are working together, that is going to be your best defense.”

2. Beware of vitamin deficiencies

Ekaterina Goncharova | time | Getty Images

“Iron deficiency can cause many symptoms, including anemia and fatigue. Deficiency can occur from many reasons, such as poor intake, but can also be associated with chronic diseases,” said Vanichkachorn.

However, I have cautioned against using vitamin or mineral supplements without first seeking medical advice.

“If you are worried about vitamin or mineral deficiencies, the first step is to speak to your medical provider,” he said.

3.Stay hydrated

If plain water is too boring, you can also add a piece of fruit such as lemon or lime to help with the taste.

Dr Greg Vanichkachorn

Director, Mayo Clinic’s Covid Activity Rehabilitation Program

Acknowledging that patients often need reminders to stay hydrated, Vanichkachorn encouraged those with long Covid to carry a bottle with them.

He added, “If plain water is too boring, you can also add a piece of fruit such as lemon or lime to help with the taste. These simple changes can make staying hydrated so much easier.”

4. What to stay away from

Because acute Covid can cause “very significant inflammation” in the body, said Vanichkachorn, it’ll be good to stay away from anything that will worsen it.

“We have seen some markers of inflammation … be elevated in this patient population [suffering from long Covid]. The inflammation likely is secondary to immune system abnormalities, perhaps even autoimmune type probabilities,” he added.

Acute Covid can cause significant inflammation in the body and it’ll be a good idea to stay away from sugary drinks and dessert, said Vanichkachorn.

Elizabeth Perez Holowaty | time | Getty Images


www.cnbc.com

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