The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause unrest around the world, with long-term health consequences.
While many patients affected by COVID-19 recover within a few weeks, some have symptoms lasting more than four weeks from the time they are diagnosed with the disease – such as shortness of breath and fatigue for up to nine months after recovery. A UK study concluded that 38% of symptomatic persons had at least one symptom of COVID-19, while 14.8% had three or more symptoms lasting 12 weeks or more.
At first, the idea that some COVID symptoms could last for a long time after the initial touch was rejected by the medical community, but today it is recognized as a public health problem. The National Health Service in Britain is conducting a study that is trying to understand the long-standing biological basis of COVID and why some people are most affected by it. According to reports so far, the main symptoms of the period after exposure to COVID include pain, difficulty breathing, elevated cholesterol levels, frequent fatigue, and hypertension.
What is COVID that lasts?
Symptoms can vary, but the National Health Service in the UK describes COVID as lasting ‘symptoms that develop during and after infection with COVID-19, lasting for more than 12 weeks, and explained by no alternative diagnosis’. The research done so far on this problem is scant, while even less is known about the impact that dietary intervention can have as part of treatment.
What causes prolonged COVID?
The reason why some patients continue to have symptoms of COVID while others do not have it is still a mystery. According to studies, among people who have had COVID in the hospital, about 33% to 87% have reported at least one symptom that appears consistently months later. However, there does not appear to be any link between persons who have had severe COVID and the development of these symptoms. The latter has also been seen among persons who have undergone COVID with mild symptoms. Research shows that smoking and obesity can increase the likelihood of these symptoms lasting.
Since nutritional therapy has never been considered as a therapy for these patients, we must turn and think about what we know so about healthy eating and how extremely important it is to maintain a healthy diet.
Getting enough protein
Many people report weakness and fatigue for a long time after COVID, accompanied by loss of muscle level. This gradual loss of muscle mass was also observed two years after COVID exposure in patients who had been hospitalized with problems of respiration. So, the intake of a sufficient amount of protein in the diet is very important.
At this point, it is recommended to take an above-average level of protein, approximately 1.2 gr per kilogram per day. Although there is still a lot to understand about COVID-19, this is something important to keep in mind.
Loss of taste
Another common COVID side effect is the loss of taste. Eating warm foods with added flavors like onions and garlic that can improve the taste may be recommended at this point. Whereas, if you have trouble coordinating breathing while chewing, taking foods in liquid form is a good option to get the necessary energies.
Low histamine diet
One theory that tries to explain the symptoms of COVID that lasts is high histamine levels. Some advise a low-level diet of histamine, which requires avoidance of pickled foods, of those sold in jars and fermented ones; of fermented milk; of processed meat; fruits and vegetables such as oranges, bananas, spinach, and tomatoes; wines and beers; and peanuts. Such a diet would be very difficult to follow long.
Some studies have shown that maintaining a fasting diet (where one does not eat for much of the day and consumes food only after several hours) can bring benefits to patients who have prolonged COVID symptoms, promoting metabolic benefits such as weight loss, loss of the fat layer and improvement of blood glucose levels. If done properly, such a diet can bring benefits.
Although there is no widely accepted protocol to COVID over supplements, high-quality Vitamin D and Omega-3 can come in handy. We know that vitamins and minerals play a role in the immune system and have come to the aid of patients with other problems. However, it is important that further studies be performed before accurate recommendations can be made.
Weight management with COVID that lasts
Long-term loss of taste and smell skills can lead to loss of appetite and cause weight loss. On the other hand, if the appetite does not change but chronic fatigue prevents people from returning to normal activities, weight gain may occur. Each case must be seen individually to set achievable goals.
Considering everything, it must be admitted that this disease is still relatively new and has little been studied. From what we know so far, consuming a diet rich in fresh, raw, fiber-rich and natural probiotic foods is the best protection for preventing and treating COVID symptoms that lasts for longer than 12 weeks from the moment of exposure to the disease.