The epidemic broke out first in Wuhan, China, possibly related to a seafood market. Several studies suggested that bat may be the potential reservoir of SARS-CoV-2.
What Are The Symptoms?
The clinical symptoms of COVID-19 patients include fever, cough, fatigue and a small population of patients appeared gastrointestinal infection symptoms. The elderly and people with underlying diseases are susceptible to infection and prone to serious outcomes, which may be associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and cytokine storm.
Coronavirus replication and pathogenesis
ACE2, found in the lower respiratory tract of humans, is known as cell receptor for SARS-CoV and regulates both the cross-species and human-to-human transmission. Essentially the ACE2 is the ‘cellular entry receptor’. This is an important point to remember for when we discuss supplementation.
ACE2 receptor is a critical step for virus entry, virus-receptor binding affinity is under intensive study through different approaches.
Yan-Rong Guo et al., Mil Med Res. 2020; 7: 11.
Nutrition For COVID-19
There is no magic diet, food, or ingredient I am afraid. It comes back to the basics of ensuring adequate nutrient intake via eating a broad range of nutrient dense foods. Dr. Alex Vasquez in his anti-viral protocols recommends a ‘paleo-Mediterranean diet’ which I agree is a good framework to be considering for many of us. A nice visual of the Mediterranean diet can be found below:
Fermented foods: Fermented food may support gut health. The gut is home to something like 60-70% of our immune system and so is one of the first places to consider when wanting to ensure a healthy immune system.
Dietary Fibre & Prebiotics Dietary fibre is the primary fuel source of our gut bacteria. These bacteria feed off our fibre and produce various metabolites including short chain fatty acids which may support our immune system via several mechanisms. Prebiotic foods include: olives, leeks, onion, garlic, asparagus, flaxseeds, wheat (if consuming), and many other fruit and vegetables.
Phytochemicals: These are found in all our plant foods (fruit, vegetables, whole grains, herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, legumes, lentils, pulses, beans) and may support a healthy gut microbiome and provide us with key nutrients which may support gut health. The saying ‘eat a rainbow a day’ is apt. here – try and eat at least one portion of food from each colour group every day.
Other Lifestyle Considerations
Sleep: Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system. In fact insomnia has even been discussed in regards to antiviral immune responses, with consequences for vaccine responses and infectious disease risk. Aim for 8-9 hours and ideally something like 10:00-06:00.
Physical Exercise: We might not be able to hit the gym as of today but we can still stay physically active. I recommend checking out my friend and colleague Fit with Frank if you want some comedy thrown in with an at-home workout!
Stress management: This times are uncertain and there is a lot of fear around. It’s not my place to invalidate how people are feeling – I feel it too. But what I do encourage all of us to do is consciously seek out positive experiences in our day-to-day lives. It may sound silly but this can be found in such simple things such as your morning coffee or running your hands under warm water when they are cold. These things count! We just need to open up to the experience. I highly recommend the book Mindfulness For Health which includes downloadable 10-minute meditations for each chapter.
Connection: Please reach out to your loved ones. Pick up the phone, drop them a message and use this opportunity to connect through whatever means possible. We are so fortunate to have technology that still allows us to connect with people in these challenging times.
I want to start by saying that I am not recommending you take any of these without first speaking with a certified health practitioner. Many may be contraindicated if you are on medication, and there is discussion that some may even exacerbate the immune response, and thus doing more harm than good. The below quote is a very sensible approach to supplementation:
We suggest that the nutritional status of each infected patient should be evaluated before the administration of general treatments.
Vitamin A: A research paper published March 2020 states
“Vitamin A could be a promising option for the treatment of this novel coronavirus and the prevention of lung infection”.
However it has also been shown to up-reguate the ACE-2 receptor and so some researchers/clinicians such as Chris Kresser have suggested to limit our intake and avoid supplementation with vitamin A. ACE-2 is the receptor which the virus enters the cell on – and so the theory goes we don’t want to supplement nutrient which may facilitate the virus penetrating our defences!
The jury is still out on what to do here. Certainly avoiding a nutrient deficiency is essential, and perhaps avoiding high dose supplementation.
“Vitamin C may also function as a weak antihistamine agent to provide relief from flu‐like symptoms such as sneezing, a running or stuffy nose, and swollen sinuses. Three human controlled trials had reported that there was significantly lower incidence of pneu- monia in vitamin C‐supplemented groups, suggesting that vitamin C might prevent the susceptibility to lower respiratory tract infections under certain conditions. The COVID‐19 had been reported to cause lower respiratory tract infection, so vitamin C could be one of the effective choices for the treatment of COVID‐19.”
Click here for a good liposomal vitamin C.
Vitamin D: However it has also been shown to up-reguate the ACE-2 receptor and so some researchers/clinicians such as Chris Kresser have suggested to limit our intake and avoid supplementation with vitamin D. The jury is still out on what to do here. Certainly avoiding a nutrient deficiency is essential! One paper states:
Vitamin D could work as another therapeutic option for the treatment of this novel virus.
zinc supplement may have effect not only on COVID‐19‐related symptom like diarrhea and lower respiratory tract infection, but also on COVID‐19 itself.
Click here for a good product which is balanced with copper.
Deficiency in selenium also induces not only impairment of host immune system, but also rapid mutation of benign variants of RNA viruses to virulence.
NAC: NAC is a mucoactive agent meaning it aids in the clearance of mucus from the upper and lower airways. Click here for a good option.
Treatment with antioxidants NAC might reduce oxidative and inflammatory damage in pneumonia patients.
Other considerations include:
Astragalus: Reduces autoimmunity and increase healthy immune function. Click here for a good option.
Rhodiola: Protect lung cells from hypoxia. Click here for a good Rhodiola.
Cordyceps: Reduce autoimmunity and increase healthy immune function. Click here for a great range of cordyceps products.
Probiotics: Probiotics are well evidenced to support the immune system and thus may be helpful also. Click here.
Have any questions? Then don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Until next time, sending you love and peace,
Zhang & Liu, Potential interventions for novel coronavirus in China: A systematic review, J Med Virol. 2020;92:479–490.