Even if the COVID 19 infection has long since passed, it can happen that symptoms such as fatigue, dyspnoea, muscle pain, brain fog, depression, anxiety and insomnia (Jimeno Almazan et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2021). Scientists also observed an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes a few months after recovering from Covid 19 (Sathish et al, J Diabetes, 2021). This is what experts call Long Covid, a condition that can persist for months with sometimes debilitating consequences for those who suffer from it. But with what percentage does Long Covid occur? Studies have observed that Long Covid can affect more than 40% of people infected with the virus, with a prevalence among those who have been hospitalized. But also a part of those who have not had to resort to hospital treatment, around 35%, can develop Long Covid (Chen et al, J Infect Dis, 2022). As for the causes, inflammation, which was increased during the new coronavirus infection and not decreased following recovery, plays a central role. At present, there is still no cure for Long Covid. However, more and more scientific studies are showing that diet and physical activity can help fight this condition, but let's understand better.
Long Covid and physical exercise
Moderate and regular physical activity can bring great benefits to countering Long Covid. In particular, moderate physical activity strengthens the immune system, counteracting inflammation. Not only that, physical exercise counteracts the deterioration of muscle function, which is often seen with Long Covid, and helps to keep blood sugar under control (Jimeno Almazan et al, Int J Environ Res Public Health, 2021).
Long Covid and anti-inflammatory foods
As mentioned in the introduction, high inflammation is at the base of Long Covid. So including anti-inflammatory foods in your diet can certainly be a good choice. For example, it is necessary to consider foods rich in vitamins C and E and selenium, powerful anti-inflammatories, antioxidants and useful to protect the brain and cognitive function (Motti et al, Nutrients, 2022). Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, kiwifruits, peppers, berries and green leafy vegetables, vitamin E is contained in sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, mangoes and avocados, while selenium is found in abundance in Brazil nuts but also in seafood, legumes and whole grains. Even probiotics, which are taken through supplements or yogurt and drinks that indicate it on the label, are to be included in your diet as they are able to support the health of the intestinal microbiota and counteract inflammation. Turmeric, thanks to its active ingredient curcumin, fights hyper-inflammation and oxidative stress. Turmeric, in order to be assimilated by the body, must be diluted in a little extra virgin olive oil and combined with a grind of black pepper, which in addition also shows anti-inflammatory properties (Farzana et al, Beni Suef Univ J Basic Appl Sci., 2022). Ginger also attenuates inflammation, as well as helping to fight viral infections and relaxing the muscles of the respiratory tract, reducing some symptoms of Long Covid such as cough (Tagde et al, Biomedicines, 2021). A good idea may be to add a little cinnamon to morning yogurt or fruit salad, which is characterized by anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic and antioxidant properties. Finally, green tea is also a concentrate of anti-inflammatory substances (Farzana et al, Beni Suef Univ J Basic Appl Sci., 2022).
Flavonoids against Long Covid brain fog
Among the symptoms most reported in the case of Long Covid there is also that of brain fog, which causes confusion, difficulty in orienting oneself and in remembering. Flavonoids, including luteolin and quercetin, can help by reducing neuroinflammation and cognitive decline. Above all, luteolin is particularly effective since this substance is very efficient in overcoming the barrier between blood and brain and performing a neuroprotective action (Motti et al, Nutrients, 2022). Luteolin is found in celery, carrots, peppers, cabbage and apple peel while quercetin is contained in onions, asparagus, berries and green tea.
Long Covid and vitamin D
The role of vitamin D deserves a separate chapter. Vitamin D, in fact, modulates the immune system, strengthening the natural defenses, especially against respiratory tract infections. Not only that, vitamin D reduces inflammation levels and stimulates tissue healing processes, also in the lungs (Barrea et al, Nutrients, 2022). Therefore, vitamin D is useful both for preventing the most damaging effects of acute new coronavirus infection and its consequences. The main source of vitamin D for our body is the sun, and there are some foods that can provide vitamin D such as mushrooms, egg yolks, fatty fish and dairy products.
Long Covid, proteins and lipids
Foods characterized by a high intake of proteins and lipids, such as eggs, fish and seafood, nuts and dairy products, have a beneficial effect when it comes to recovering from the new coronavirus infection and countering Long Covid (Cobre et al, Clin Nutr, 2021).
Herbal medicine to help against Long Covid
Studies have shown that the intake for two weeks of plants with adaptogenic action, that is, capable of strengthening the body and making it more resistant to stress, such as Schisandra, Rodiola and Elueterococcus, reduced the sense of fatigue and pain in the case of Long Covid. Not only that, the combination of these plants also made it possible to protect the kidneys from damage, another possible effect of Long Covid (Karosanidze et al, Pharmaceuticals, 2022).