Food & Lifestyle Tips To Help Manage Long COVID
Millions of people have now been infected with COVID-19, and many have completely recovered from the symptoms associated with the disease. However, others have not fully recovered and continue to experience symptoms long after they should have disappeared. This phenomena of lingering symptoms has now earned the name of long COVID. But what is long COVID, exactly, what symptoms are present, and what are some food and lifestyle tips to help manage long COVID?
What is long COVID?
Long COVID occurs when a person who has been infected with the COVID-19 virus continues to experience symptoms long after the initial infection has cleared. While it’s not yet known why some people experience long COVID while others do not, it’s thought that anyone – even those who didn’t experience any symptoms of the initial infection – can develop long COVID.
The main symptoms of long COVID include:
- Shortness of breath
- Mental health issues such as depression
- Cognitive difficulties such as poor memory, difficulty concentration, and trouble learning new things
- Joint and muscle pain
- A continued or new loss of smell or taste
- Chest pains
- Dizziness upon standing
These symptoms can be present all the time or come and go, and often become worse after a person tries to do something mentally or physically taxing. Because of this, recovery from long COVID can be a difficult road.
Is long COVID recovery possible?
Recovering from long COVID is difficult for several reasons: researchers aren’t sure why some people experience long-term symptoms while others don’t; it’s not yet clear how long a person will have to cope with the long-term symptoms; and in some cases full recovery may not be possible due to organ damage.
New research is beginning to shed light on the permanent damage that is occurring following a COVID-91 infection, finding that the lungs may not be the only system affected. For example, studies have found that the heart, kidneys, and brain can all be damaged, leading to the prolonged symptoms. In fact, as many as 70% of people who had a COVID-19 infection will experience organ impairment in at least one organ in the months following the infection.
That being said, the research surrounding recovery following long COVID is still ongoing, and there is hope that people will soon have better ways to overcome the symptoms associated with the long-term infection.
What is the long COVID diet plan?
Diet plays a vital role in recovery from COVID-19 as well as long COVID. After the infection is contracted, the body and all its systems will require various nutrients to repair and protect it from further damage.
The type of food you eat to help you recover will depend greatly on the symptom you’re trying to tackle. For example, if you are suffering from fatigue, how you eat is just as important as what you eat. You will want to eat small amounts of food more often so that you can keep your blood sugar levels at a steady level throughout the day. Avoiding foods that may cause a surge in energy followed by a crash, such as sweet foods or heavy starches, is also a good idea to help avoid further fatigue. Some good foods to eat for fatigue include:
Skipping meals should also be avoided because it can cause a lack of energy, and when suffering fatigue, you will need all the energy sources you can get. Specific vitamins and minerals you should focus on when battling symptoms of long COVID, including fatigue, brain fog, and muscle aches, include:
- Vitamin D
- Omega 3 fats
- B vitamins
- Vitamin C
These vitamins and minerals are found in various wholefoods and are best consumed through diet. However, taking a multivitamin supplement or other supplements to make up for what you don’t get through diet is better than not getting the nutrient at all.
Studies have also shown that one of the better diet plans for long COVID is a plant-based diet because of pre-COVID evidence that these diets can help with some common symptoms, such as mental disorders, muscle pain, and sleep disorders.
Long COVID lifestyle tips to help recovery
Although diet is arguably the most important aspect of recovering from long COVID, you will also want to incorporate certain lifestyle changes that could help you cope with symptoms and recover faster. The first change involves quality sleep. Even the healthiest of individuals require good-quality sleep for their bodies to function at their best. If you have long COVID, even more emphasis should be put on sleep because it can help your body heal itself and fight symptoms such as brain fog and fatigue.
To get a good night’s sleep, you’ll have to adopt a healthy sleep schedule. This often involves waking up and going to bed at the same time every day, getting into the habit of avoiding screens for at least an hour prior to bedtime, and having a comfortable and relaxing bedroom environment.
Exercise is another lifestyle factor that can be leveraged to help recover from long COVID, but it has to be done right. Exercise has to be approached with ease and tailored to a person’s specific abilities for it to be effective. This means that, although you need to exercise, you should start slow and work your way up to full exercise sessions for it to benefit you.
Getting over long COVID isn’t easy, especially since medical researchers still aren’t sure why some people suffer from it while others don’t. The most important things you can do are feed your body with the proper nutrients, get quality sleep every night, and maintain a regular exercise routine.