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How to combat Long Covid

As of October 2022, 2.1 million people in the UK were experiencing Long Covid. An estimated 33% of patients have persisting symptoms for six months following Covid-19 infection.1https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7896197/2https://neurosciencenews.com/post-covid-brain-21904/

Wondering if you’re dealing with Long Covid? The most commonly reported symptoms, in order of frequency, are fatigue, difficulty concentrating, shortness of breath, and muscle ache.3https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/…/infections Other symptoms include headaches, cough, and altered mood, to name a few.4https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/navigating-our-way-through-long-covid

Lingering inflammation is one of the main factors that lengthen Covid recovery time.5https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/antioxidant-anti-inflammatory-…-covid-19-recovery/ For this reason, evidence points toward an approach that focuses on anti-inflammatory support and antioxidant support.6https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32425712/

Focusing on key diet and lifestyle factors such as nutrition, stress, sleep, movement, and connection is as important for addressing Long Covid as it is with any other health issue. But let’s hone in, and look at the specific nutrients scientific literature suggests will help you combat symptoms of Long Covid.

They are:

  • Probiotic Kefir
  • Vitamin A
  • Zinc
  • Omega-3
  • N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine or Glutathione
  • Curcumin or Turmeric
  • Vitamin D

Time to break it down…

Take a synbiotic approach

Maximise the health benefits of your kefir by taking it as part of a synbiotic! A synbiotic is the combination of a probiotic and a prebiotic that promotes health benefits. Combining our Chuckling Goat Kefir with the Complete Prebiotic gives your gut access to 18 different types of fibres and 27 different live microbes.

It is always a good idea to look after your gut. This applies to any health concern, and Covid-19 is no exception. A recent study identified a change in the composition of gut microbes in Covid patients. Dysbiosis was detected in these individuals – i.e. a reduction in beneficial species and an increase in opportunistic pathogens (bad bacteria).7https://bmcmedicine.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12916-021-02212-0

Supporting your gut is one of the most important steps you can take in improving your immune defence. Scientists have found that using kefir and its byproducts to reduce inflammation in Covid-19 patients is a potentially viable approach.8https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0753332220311665

Kefir is full of live active cultures and is a significant source of Vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, and Vitamin A. A 2022 clinical trial showed significant improvement in Long Covid symptoms using probiotics, prebiotics, and phytochemicals (phytochemicals are obtained through eating plant foods).9https://www.mdpi.com/2673-8112/2/4/31 Improving your gut health using a high-quality symbiotic – Chuckling Goat Kefir and Complete Prebiotic – and eating a diverse diet, would be a safe and natural way to boost your immune system and work with Long Covid.

Vitamin A

This essential vitamin plays a key role in supporting both immune function and olfactory receptor neuron regeneration (i.e. smell).10https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/top-5-nutrients-for-lingering-covid-19-symptoms/11https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28434127/12https://rhinology-group.uea.ac.uk/apollo-trial/ Studies have been carried out on high dose Vitamin A to bring back both smell and taste. Many Long Covid patients have found success with a Vitamin A drops directly into the nose to bring back smell! It’s worth considering a Vitamin A supplement, particularly an intranasal one, if you have lost your sense of smell or taste following Covid infection.

If you are pregnant or trying to conceive please skip this suggestion or seek advice from your Health Care Provider before considering Vitamin A supplementation.

Zinc

This mineral is involved in almost every aspect of health such as immune function, inflammatory balance, blood sugar balance, antioxidant activity, as well as smell and taste13https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/top-5-nutrients-for-lingering-covid-19-symptoms/ – making it a major nutrient to consider for Long Covid. Research shows that Long Covid symptoms may be linked to persistent inflammation and blood sugar dysregulation.

Unfortunately, zinc levels are often low in the modern Western diet. The richest food sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, milk and cheese, eggs, whole grains, dark chocolate, and certain vegetables such as potatoes.14https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zinc Most individuals can obtain their daily zinc requirement through food, so supplements are only recommended when necessary (e.g. restrictive diets, some older adults, those with conditions affecting zinc absorption). When choosing a zinc supplement, opt for a bioavailable form such as zinc gluconate, bisglycinate, citrate, or picolinate.15https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/zinc16https://www.nutriadvanced.ie/news/top-5-nutrients-for-lingering-covid-19-symptoms/

Omega-3s

Omega-3s are associated with eliciting an anti-inflammatory effect. It is thought that persistent inflammation could be an underlying factor in Long Covid, so eating and supplementing for optimal omega-3 levels makes sense. Try to include the following omega-3-rich foods in your diet: chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, grass-fed meat, and oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, and anchovies. A safe and effective way of increasing your omega-3 levels is through a daily omega-3 fish oil supplement. When choosing a supplement, look for one that contains omega-3s as free fatty acids, with a good amount of EPA and DHA.17https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-supplement-guide#tips

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) or Glutathione

N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) is used in the body to produce Glutathione, a major antioxidant. NAC can help with respiratory issues due to its ability to reduce mucus secretions, phlegm, coughing, wheezing and trouble breathing. It can also reduce inflammation and support immune health.

NAC and glutathione are supplements that provide antioxidant support that can help during Long Covid. Glutathione appears to support immune surveillance, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant phases of Covid recovery.

Curcumin or Turmeric

Curcumin is the main active component of turmeric and offers powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin can be a significant support for any health issues that may be caused by persistent inflammation. It can greatly help with inflammatory health problems due to its ability to influence several inflammatory pathways in the body.

You can add curcumin to your diet by simply using the spice turmeric in your meals. To improve the absorption of turmeric, it’s recommended to take this spice with a source of fat (e.g. avocado, nuts, fish, nut butter) or black pepper. You can also get curcumin or turmeric and black pepper supplements. A high dose of curcumin and bromelain between meals could really help with inflammation.18https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32425712/

Vitamin D

Low levels of Vitamin D have been linked with increased incidence of Covid-19 infection, making it an important vitamin to consider for prevention of Covid-19 or Covid-19 symptoms. Vitamin D is both a nutrient and a hormone and has many important functions including modulation of cell growth, immune function, neuromuscular function, and reducing inflammation.19https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9028162/

25OHD (calcifediol) is the name for the form of Vitamin D that is produced in your liver. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, low 25OHD levels were associated with muscle weakness and fatigue. As fatigue is the most common symptom of Long Covid, and muscle weakness is another, it makes sense to consider Vitamin D when working with this condition. Due to limited sun exposure, everyone in the UK is advised to supplement with Vitamin D daily anyway, particularly during autumn and winter months. Although more research is needed for Vitamin D benefits in Long Covid, it is a safe and inexpensive addition to most Covid and Long Covid treatment plans.

Are there other nutrients worth noting?

Providing foundation support, antioxidant support, and addressing inflammation are key considerations for Long Covid. Several nutrients can improve our immune response to Covid-19 infection. Other nutrients that haven’t been covered in this article, but could help, include:

It’s always best to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new diet or supplement regime.

Are you looking for natural ways to overcome post-viral fatigue? Check out our blog post here.

Feel free to get in touch with our Nutritional Therapists via live chat, 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays, to have your questions answered!

References

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

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