What Should You Eat When You Have COVID-19?

There is a ton of advice available on what to do if you test positive for COVID-19, and chances are you are already pretty familiar with the process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should isolate for at least five days, wear a mask when you need to be around people, and avoid sharing personal household items as much as you can (CDC).

Is there anything you can eat to help with the uncomfortable symptoms of COVID-19, which can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sore throats? When you have COVID-19, experts advise against making significant dietary changes, but there are a few adjustments you can make to make the illness as comfortable as possible for you. Let’s get to it.

How likely is what you eat to influence your illness?

It’s crucial to state right away that what you eat is unlikely to affect how quickly your illness progresses or the symptoms you experience.

According to Thomas Russo, M.D., professor and division chief of infectious diseases at the University at Buffalo in New York, “Right now, there is no data that shows that eating particular types of food or taking certain vitamins for COVID-19 like vitamin D, zinc, or vitamin C are going to influence the course of your COVID.”

Numerous studies have suggested that people with low vitamin D levels are more likely than others to become seriously ill from COVID-19, but the National Institutes of Health (NIH) notes that “clear evidence that vitamin D supplementation provides protection against infection or improves outcomes in patients with COVID-19 is still lacking.” When you have COVID-19, the NIH states that there is “insufficient evidence” to support whether you should or shouldn’t try to use vitamin D to hasten the course of your illness.

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The NIH also advises against exceeding the recommended daily allowance of zinc, which is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women, because there is “insufficient evidence” to support either recommendation.

There is “insufficient evidence,” according to the NIH, to recommend for or against the use of vitamin C to treat or hasten the course of COVID-19.

Additionally, fermented foods are said to strengthen the immune system. Additionally, although eating fermented foods has been linked to a more diverse gut microbiome, which may affect your immune response, Richard Watkins, M.D., an infectious disease specialist in Akron, Ohio, and a professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University, says that this is unlikely to be helpful once you’re already ill.

What should you eat when you have COVID-19?

According to your symptoms, obviously. At the very least, according to Amesh A. Adalja, M.D., a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, “it is important to eat a normal diet and keep well-hydrated during your illness as fever can be dehydrating.”

According to Dr. Russo, being properly hydrated won’t actually hasten the course of your illness; rather, it will enable your body to fight it effectively (and spare you from unpleasant dehydration side effects like dry mouth, fatigue, and dizziness in the process). Maintaining adequate hydration will help prevent dehydration because COVID-19 inflammation speeds up metabolism and water loss (especially if a fever is present).

To ensure that you are meeting all of your nutritional needs and keeping your body in good working order, Dr. Russo advises eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.

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But after that, it really is dependent on your symptoms. Dr. Russo advises trying the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast) to see if it relieves your digestive problems. However, Dr. Adalja advises that you simply “eat whatever is tolerable.”

Although it can happen, losing your sense of taste and smell is less common with the COVID-19 strains that are currently in circulation. Even though you might not feel like eating much if you lose your sense of taste and smell, Dr. Watkins advises continuing to try to eat a healthy diet. Maintaining an adequate diet with enough calories is crucial, he says.

Dr. Russo advises adding scent training to the mix in an effort to restore your senses. If you’re not familiar with the practice, scent training entails inhaling while imagining the smell of a few strong scents, such as cinnamon and citrus. It can help people somewhat regain their sense of taste and smell, according to studies, but more research is needed.

Should you avoid any foods when you have COVID-19?

Even though it’s unlikely that any particular foods will affect how your illness develops, eating certain foods may not leave you feeling your best while your body is battling the infection. Fast food, fried food, and foods with a lot of added sugar may just make you feel worse than you already do from having COVID, according to Dr. Russo. Although the occasional fried food or treat is unlikely to do that in the context of an otherwise healthy diet, they may even increase inflammation in your body, according to Jessica Cording, R.D., C.D.N., a dietitian and health coach and author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.

You’ve probably heard that it’s a good idea to stay away from dairy when you have a runny nose and phlegm, but there is conflicting evidence to support this advice. While more recent research suggests that giving up dairy may reduce your mucus production, some older studies found that dairy consumption has no effect on the volume of mucus you produce. The results showed that the dairy-free group experienced less congestion than the other group.In essence, giving up dairy is an option, but it’s not a guarantee that doing so will be beneficial.

However, Dr. Russo advises against drinking alcohol in order to avoid dehydration and further inflammatory effects on the body. Additionally, you don’t want to take the chance of going too far and feeling even worse.

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