“I suffered with Covid-19 in May and although I wasn’t hospitalised I was quite poorly for about six weeks. I have never fully recovered and think I have been suffering from long Covid. I’m wondering if there is anything you can suggest nutritionally that could help? I’m a 45-year old man with no apparent underlying health conditions although I have had a couple of bouts of bronchitis in the past.”
Suzie Sawyer, clinical nutritionist answers:
I’m really sorry to hear this. As you will be aware, there are a number of symptoms of long Covid. Obviously, Covid-19 significantly affects the immune system, so it makes sense to support it as much as possible.
As we go into the colder winter months, the body craves warming foods, especially root vegetables. It’s no coincidence that turnips, swede, Brussels sprouts, and sweet potatoes are all in season right now. Load up on them as much as possible and increase your intake by making root vegetable soups. Add some warming spices such as ginger, turmeric and paprika, which all support the immune system and are also anti-inflammatory.
It’s important to support your lung health by eating foods rich in antioxidants. Top choices include beetroot, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, blueberries, apples and tomatoes (including all tomato products). This will also help manage inflammation, which may well be an on-going symptom.
If you eat dairy produce, foods such as cow’s milk, cheese, butter and foods made with these ingredients tend to be mucous forming so should be avoided or significantly reduced. Conversely, oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats so include these in your diet or, if you are vegetarian or vegan, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds.
You need to be kind to your body right now, so avoid eating or drinking anything that puts it under duress and potentially depletes other key nutrients. Top of the list would be sugar in all its forms. Sugar, including refined foods and sugary drinks, saps energy and slows down digestion meaning the body has to work harder.
You may be sleeping more than normal at the moment and if so try to ensure your sleep is restorative and not too broken. If you’re struggling with sleep, taking the herb valerian may help. The body renews and rebuilds during rest and sleep so do listen to what it’s telling you and take regular naps and breaks, rather than trying to fight it, however frustrated you feel.
It’s amazing how restorative the right foods and lifestyle changes can be, so I hope this helps.