While some of us are lucky enough to experience only minor symptoms, plenty more are left feeling extremely tired, with chronic headaches, respiratory distress and even digestive discomfort thanks to the ghastly virus.
One of the defining characteristics of COVID-19 is the inflammatory effect it has on the body’s systems, especially the lungs, and from a dietary perspective there are a number of ways to support a reduction in inflammation in the body. So, whether you are feeling fine, or quite under the weather with COVID-19, here are the foods to reach for, and the ones to avoid.
The best foods for COVID-19
Not only does fruit have a high water content to support hydration, but fruit is a rich source of a number of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that plays a key role in supporting immune function and including a vitamin C-rich food at each meal and snack is an easy way to support your recovery from COVID-19.
Some of the best fruit options are kiwi fruit, berries, stone fruit, mangoes and oranges, but any fruit is a nutritious choice. If you find yourself struggling to eat solid food, fruit smoothies are an easy to drink, nutrient-rich alternative.
While we tend to reach for fruit juice, it is an extremely concentrated source of sugars. Vegetable-based juices, on the other hand, mean you can combine plenty of vitamin- and nutrient-rich vegetables in a light, refreshing drink.
As a general rule of thumb, the brighter the colour of the veges, the richer the nutrient content, so think beetroot, spinach, kale, carrot and capsicum for a delicious vitamin hit. If you find plain vegetable juices a little harsh on the palate, try blending three to four different vegetables with one piece of fruit and loads of ice for a refreshing drink. My personal favourite is beetroot, celery, carrot and orange.
If you are able to tolerate solid food, while you may be tempted to order in and indulge in comfort food, nutritionally you will be much better to enjoy more seafood. Whether you prefer Omega-3-rich salmon, delicious Aussie prawns, some fresh oysters or mussels, not only is seafood rich in protein and key nutrients, it also contains loads of zinc. Zinc plays an integral role in immune function and is a nutrient many Aussies do not get enough of.
When you think of foods that benefit immune function, kefir or sauerkraut may not be at the top of your list, but the more we learn about immune system, the more we come to understand that much of our immune function is determined by our digestive health.
Foods that are a source of probiotics, the live cultures that nourish a healthy gut, are a must-add into your diet when the goal is to support immunity. Plain yoghurts with cultures, kefir, miso and fermented vegetables are some of the natural sources of probiotics, while you can also find a range of supplements at pharmacies and health food stores.
Foods to avoid
Days on end spent at home can mean we reach for a little more home-delivered comfort food, but when you have COVID-19, it is not the time to indulge in high-fat, fast food meals. Fried in processed vegetable oils and high in saturated fats, refined carbs and sugars, processed fast food is one of the worst foods to indulge in when you are trying to reduce inflammation in the body.
Whether you tend to reach for biscuits snack bars, chips or chocolate, processed snacks are sources of processed vegetable oils and sugars, both of which increase inflammation in the body. Fresh, natural unprocessed snacks to opt for instead include fruit, hummus, popcorn, nuts and seeds.
There is a big difference between a home-made smoothie or juice and soft drinks, vitamin and coconut waters, slushies and jumbo blends of fruit, syrups and sugary-flavoured milks, which can add 60 to 80g of sugars per serve.
Concentrated sugars are one of the worst things we can consume if the goal is to reduce inflammation in the body.
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