Your Post COVID-19 Recovery Diet
Nutrition plays an important role on the road to recovery, so we’ve created this guide to help you regain your strength and build your immunity.
The stress of COVID-19 takes both a mental and physical toll on the body. The infection causes a loss of energy, fatigue, weakness, and loss of muscle mass and strength—and these effects can remain even post the infection. That’s why proper nutrition and hydration are key elements on the recovery path and can help you rebuild your strength. In fact, during this period of prolonged stress, your body needs extra energy to sustain itself and help organs return to their normal level of functioning—so even though there may be a loss of appetite, you may have to add more dense foods to your diet to regain your stamina and strength. If your appetite has reduced, avoid having large, rich meals—which could cause discomfort—instead, try opting for smaller but more frequent meals that are high in protein. Some people may still be experiencing an impaired sense of smell and taste, making dietary decisions all the more easy to ignore and food less enjoyable, but even though these may take time to return, it’s vital to remain wise about nutrition. Try eating a variety of hot and cold foods, and foods with different textures, as that may help bring about a sensory reaction.
Alongside this, those who have suffered from COVID-19 may be dealing with brain fog and anxiety, and oftentimes over-processed foods can exacerbate the condition. For those who are living alone or do not have access or the strength to get essentials, there are various places offering home-cooked meals delivery, and there are online resources to order groceries from. Or, you could rely on family and friends to help with deliveries.
Of course, when it comes to recovery, nutrition goes hand-in-hand with other lifestyle changes like regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress management and the course of action your healthcare practitioner has prescribed.
In order to both prevent more muscle loss and rebuild strength, incorporating protein-rich foods is a priority for faster recovery. Protein offers the building blocks to support and repair your body tissue, making it one of the most important components of your COVID-19 recovery nutrition plan. Try to make sure that every meal has a source of it, some options are eggs, lentils, yoghurt, nuts, dairy products and meat.
Your body has been through a lot while fighting the COVID-19 infection, and supporting your immune system can help you recover quickly and also protect you from other infections. Items like citrus fruits and bell peppers are rich in vitamin C, and many studies support the vitamin’s impact on the immune system. For example, a 2017 study in the Nutrients journal claims that a ‘vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections.’ Along with vitamin C, research shows that other micronutrient deficiencies, like zinc, folic acid, iron, vitamins A, B6, D and E, can also have a beneficial impact on the immune system. One can get these from seeds, nuts, dairy products, meat, vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens.
Since the gut is home to a major part of the immune system, it’s important to incorporate gut-healthy foods as well, which is where prebiotic and probiotic foods come into play. The latter contain live good bacteria and the former helps maintain those bacteria. Some examples of probiotic foods are fermented vegetables, yoghurt, kimchi and examples of prebiotic foods are garlic, onion and bananas.
Foods rich in magnesium can help one feel calmer and improve one’s mood, and stress tends to deplete the body’s magnesium. As per research, magnesium can reduce anxiety as it improves brain function and helps regulate neurotransmitters. Some foods that are high in magnesium include leafy greens, dark chocolate, avocados, whole grains and seeds. There are supplements available too, but you should consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any course.
Any infection can dehydrate one’s body, and it’s no different when it comes to COVID-19. Be sure to continuously hydrate yourself with water, which will also help carry the nutrients mentioned above throughout the body and regulate your body temperature. You can also include soups and fresh juice as part of getting fluids into your body.
At Seva At Home, we produce a wealth of free health information to help elders live healthier, happier lives. This has been produced by independent research carried out by the Seva At Home team. This information is not a replacement for medical advice. Please consult your physician for relevant medical diagnosis and advice.
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