5 Best Healthy Foods To Eat If You Have COVID-19 Or Coronavirus
There is an important link between your nutritional status, immune health, risk of infection and ability to recover from illness.
Poor nutrition is associated with inflammation and oxidative stress, which affects immune system health. Both inflammation and oxidative stress are increased when you have COVID-19.
The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic in March 2020. The full name of the virus is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), and the disease it causes is COVID-19.
COVID-19 negatively affects nutritional status as it reduces appetite and may limit access to nutritious food during lockdown, but also the body’s need for nutrients such as vitamin D. Increases
Diet and nutrition can help your immune health if you have COVID-19, especially if you eat foods that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is important to note that this is a new area of research. These foods will not prevent infection with the new coronavirus or cure the disease, but they have been shown to support immune health.
Foods To Help With COVID Recovery
This article lists key nutrients, foods, and dietary practices that may be helpful for people with or recovering from COVID-19.
Vitamin D is the most discussed micronutrient in the treatment of COVID-19 by nutritionists.
According to new and old research, these fat-soluble vitamins and hormones prevent inflammation by suppressing an overactive immune system.
In the body, vitamin D acts on angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), a protein receptor found in the lungs and adipose tissue.
The new coronavirus binds to ACE2 early in infection, which can lead to acute respiratory distress syndrome and severe illness in people with COVID-19.
However, vitamin D interacts with the ACE2 receptor, which can prevent the virus from attaching to it and reduce complications associated with COVID-19.
Vitamin D may also play a protective role and promote healing of damaged tissue, particularly in the lungs.
Food to eat
On average, people make about 80% of their vitamin D when their skin is exposed to sunlight (ultraviolet light), and the other 20% they get from their diet.
As such, it may be a good idea to take vitamin D daily if you are confined due to COVID-19 and exposed to sunlight.
However, some medications can interact with vitamin D supplements, including blood thinners, which are common due to the increased risk of blood clots in people with COVID-19.
That’s why it’s best to talk to your doctor before starting to take regular vitamin D supplements.
Increasing your intake of vitamin D-rich foods during illness or recovery from COVID-19 is a great way to reduce your risk of vitamin D deficiency and possibly boost your immune response.
Here are seven foods rich in vitamin D, along with the amount of the vitamin in each:
- Cod liver oil: 170% of the Daily Value (DV) per 1 tablespoon (13.6 grams)
- Herring: 27% of the DV per 100 grams
- Egg yolk: 27% of the DV per 100 grams
- Sardine: 24% of the DV per 100 grams
- Canned light tuna: 34% of the DV per 100 grams
- Salmon, wild-caught or farmed: 66% of the DV per 100 grams
- Fortified orange juice: 25% of the DV per 100 grams
Wild mushrooms are a vegetarian source of vitamin D. According to previous research, their levels depend on the type of light they are exposed to during development.
Vitamin D may help protect your lungs during a new coronavirus infection by interfering with the virus binding to your body. Some foods are rich in vitamin D, such as fish oil, salmon, herring and some wild mushrooms.
Carotenoids And Vitamin-A
Carotenoids are antioxidants and pigments (red, green, yellow and orange). It is found naturally in various colorful algae, bacteria, fungi, plants, fruits and vegetables, some of which you can add to your diet.
Of the 700 naturally occurring carotenoids, only 30 are found in the human body. One of them is vitamin A and its precursor beta-carotene.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble antioxidant carotenoid. It has anti-inflammatory properties and studies show that it can help treat pneumonia and respiratory infections.
In the case of COVID-19, research shows that vitamin A reduces inflammation and oxidative stress, improves the immune response, and can reduce the severity of the disease.
Researchers believe it protects the ACE2 receptor, like vitamin D, and may act on several other molecular targets to fight COVID-19.
Some people may develop a vitamin A deficiency during an infection such as COVID-19 and this can exacerbate the disease. If this happens, you may need to take vitamin A supplements.
However, drug interactions are also possible if you take vitamin A supplements, so talk to your doctor before taking them.
Food to eat
Dark green leafy vegetables and organic meats, especially liver, are rich sources of vitamin A.
Here are eight foods rich in vitamin A, along with the daily value per 100 grams of each:
- Beef liver: 552% of the DV
- Chicken liver: 327% of the DV
- King mackerel: 24% of the DV
- Goat cheese: 54% of the DV
- Sweet potato, cooked: 87% of the DV
- Collard greens: 28% of the DV
- Carrots, raw: 93% of the DV
- Baby spinach, raw: 31% of the DV
Vitamin A is a carotenoid that can help provide strong protection against infections, including COVID-19. Food sources include liver, dark green leafy vegetables, and colorful vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to a higher risk of infection and worse outcomes in people with COVID-19.
Zinc is considered one of the most important minerals. Studies show that its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the risk of heart disease, support eye health, and are important for immune health.
In COVID-19, zinc can reduce the risk of bacterial infection and reduce the activity of the ACE2 receptor, which is the target of the new coronavirus.
It also protects lung tissue health and may be an additional treatment option for COVID-19. Research on this issue is ongoing.
If you are diagnosed with a zinc deficiency, your doctor may recommend that you take a zinc supplement. However, be careful not to overdose, as zinc is highly toxic. Stick to the dosage recommended by your doctor.
Food to eat
Here are seven foods rich in zinc, along with the % DV per 100 grams of each:
- Ground beef: 41% of the DV
- Dark chocolate (70–85% cacao): 30% of the DV
- Seafood oyster, canned: 73% of the DV
- Cashew nuts: 53% of the DV
- Hemp seeds: 90% of the DV
- Pumpkin seeds: 71% of the DV
- Lentils, sprouted, raw: 14% of the DV
Zinc is an important mineral with anti-inflammatory properties that may benefit people with COVID-19. Rich food sources include beef, cashews and flaxseeds.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are a category of fatty acids that have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties, including for mental health, heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
These omega-3 fats, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may improve recovery in people with COVID-19.
However, high-quality human studies are needed before medical professionals can recommend it for this purpose.
Omega-3 fats reduce inflammation and reduce the likelihood of a “cytokine storm” in COVID-19, meaning an overactive immune system that causes negative symptoms.
They are thought to do this by becoming part of the cell membranes of various tissues throughout the body and suppressing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds.
Another potential benefit of omega-3 fats in the treatment or recovery of patients with COVID-19 is their role in improving mood, anxiety, and depression, which may be exacerbated by the novel coronavirus outbreak.
Research is ongoing to determine the therapeutic role of omega-3 fats in COVID-19.
Food to eat
Here are eight foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, each with omega-3 content. Note that they contain different types of omega-3s:
- Chia seeds: 6 grams per 100 grams
- Soybean, dry-roasted: 1.4 grams per 100 grams
- Sardines, canned: 498 mg per 100 grams
- Cod liver oil: 935 mg per tablespoon
- King mackerel: 159 mg per 100 grams
- Flaxseed: 23 grams per 100 grams
- Walnuts: 9 grams per 100 grams
- Salmon: 113 mg per 100 grams
As you may have noticed, many foods containing omega-3 fats are also rich sources of vitamin D.
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fats are known for their anti-inflammatory health benefits and may help treat COVID-19. Foods rich in omega-3 fats include salmon, sardines and chia seeds.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that supports immune health at all ages.
Animal and human studies have shown that vitamin C can reduce oxidative stress, improve endothelial function to protect against heart disease, and aid recovery from the common cold.
New research shows that giving vitamin C to people with COVID-19 may help them recover and improve during the course of the illness.
Vitamin C has a potential role in the prevention and treatment of pneumonia and bacterial infections such as sepsis, although some in the scientific community question its use.
Early evidence suggests that taking vitamin C may help people with COVID-19, but more human studies are needed.
Food to eat
Here are eight foods that are naturally high in vitamin C, along with the %DV per 100 grams of each:
- Guava, raw: 253% of the DV
- Acerola (West Indian cherry): 1,867% of the DV
- Kiwi, raw: 103% of the DV
- Cauliflower, raw: 54% of the DV
- Canned tomatoes: 14% of the DV
- Potato, with skin: 13% of the DV
- Sweet pepper, red: 142% of the DV
- Papaya, raw: 68% of the DV
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that supports immune health and is known to reduce the risk of pneumonia. This nutrient shows promise as a treatment for COVID-19, and further research is ongoing.
The Bottom Line
COVID-19 negatively affects nutritional status, and a healthy, functioning immune system is essential to reduce the risk of infection and support recovery.
Researchers are eagerly exploring vitamin D, carotenoids, vitamin A, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin C as adjunctive treatments for COVID-19 for their potential health benefits.
There is currently no clinical evidence that low-dose histamine is beneficial for people with or recovering from COVID-19. More human research is needed.