Long Covid – anti-inflammatory diet as a basis for any therapy
According to scientists and scientific institutes, long covid or post covid are symptoms of illness that persist for twelve weeks or even longer after having been infected with the Sars-CoV-2 pathogen or a mutant thereof. Between 10 and 20 percent of all people are affected worldwide.
What are the long covid symptoms?
The most commonly recurring long-term effects after a SARS-CoV-2 infection include respiratory symptoms, chest pain, loss of smell and taste. Many people affected also complain about constant tiredness and fatigue, which severely impedes or even renders some patients unable to cope with everyday life.
Triggers for long covid symptoms
Scientists around the globe are currently researching the causes to find out what could ultimately trigger long covid. Scientists, for example, have been able to demonstrate that the shape and elasticity of the red blood cells have changed in some people suffering from long covid. As a result, not all cells are supplied with sufficient oxygen and nutrients because the red blood cells cannot cross barriers in the usual way. However, since red blood cells are renewed in the bone marrow at regular intervals (after about 120 days), these mutated blood cells presumably are only a side effect of the long covid symptoms.
Another hypothesis for the long covid disease is that the SARS-CoV-2 virus triggers chronic inflammation and even autoimmune disease. It seems that a Covid infection weakens the body to such an extent that the body cannot manage to eliminate the pathogen completely. Scientists were able to detect virus components in the blood and intestines, which presumably continue to constantly stimulate the immune system, which, in response, permanently releases pro-inflammatory messenger substances – a fact which then contributes to the various complaints.
Furthermore, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is thought to cause cell damage, and above all to destroy the mitochondria, the powerhouse of the cell, or to severely impair their function.
Mitochondria, the energy suppliers of our body
All human cells, with the exception of red blood cells, contain mitochondria. Mitochondria have a wide range of functions: By burning carbohydrates and fats, they are primarily responsible for ensuring that the body has sufficient energy. Depending on the type of cell (heart, muscle, liver, stomach cells, etc.), there are 1,000 to 2,000 mitochondria. However, if more than 50% are damaged, the cell can no longer supply sufficient energy to maintain the necessary bodily functions. So this can be another explanation for the permanent tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue many people suffering from long covid have to deal with.
How nutrition can support people suffering from long covid
From a nutritional therapy perspective, an anti-inflammatory diet plays a key role in long covid, in order to counteract silent inflammation in the body. A predominantly alkaline diet offers the best protection against inflammation. It has a significant amount of vegetables, herbs, legumes, nuts and fruits. And these foods are rich in phytochemicals and antioxidant vital substances, such as vitamins A, C, E and B vitamins. Moreover, they also provide plenty of magnesium, copper, selenium, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is equally important that protein, fat and carbohydrates are consumed in the right proportions to both provide the immune system and organs with sufficient nutrients and energy, and above all to relieve the mitochondria in order for them to regenerate.
Carbohydrates – what is important?
We all know that carbohydrates are the body’s energy suppliers. Therefore, in case of fatigue, it seems logical to consume more carbohydrates in order to provide the body with plenty of fuel. But this is not a solution in the context of long covid – on the contrary: the cells do not have enough functional mitochondria available for the amount of carbohydrates that are consumed. Consequently, only a small portion of the carbohydrates can actually be converted into energy. The excess carbohydrates are converted into fat and stored in the fat depots, which not only act as energy stores, but are metabolically very active and can severely influence the rest of the body.
When the fat cells grow
As a matter of fact, no one is happy about excessive weight gain – no matter where the body fat accumulates. Abdominal fat even poses a major health risk, since hormones and various other substances can cause inflammation in the body or further fuel already existing inflammation, as is the case with long covid, among others.
Although it has long been known that fat per se is not detrimental to health and is not solely responsible for fat deposits, there still is the erroneous opinion that people live healthier or eat better if they consume “light products”. In fact, dietary fat provides monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as essential fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, some of which the body cannot produce itself, but which are vital for many metabolic processes and play a major role in the fight against silent inflammation. Therefore, you should not avoid fat, but consciously prefer foods with natural fat content and use high-quality oils in your diet.
Proteins for a strong immune system
About 2 pounds of protein keep us healthy – that’s about the amount our immune system needs. Our immune cells and other defense substances mainly consist of amino acids. Certain amino acids also serve as “fuel,” meaning that while organ cells use carbohydrates for energy, immune cells need branched amino acids for this purpose. In the event of an infection, we require more protein because the immune cells have to divide, multiply and form antibodies very quickly within a very short period of time. Often our body then helps itself to the muscle protein, since not enough protein is supplied through food. Studies have shown that already during a one-week flu, half of the protein that the immune system needs is broken down. And it probably is the same in case of a SARS-CoV-2 infection, with the consequence that in the course of time more and more muscle mass is lost, which must be rebuilt as quickly as possible with high-quality protein.
If we injure ourselves, such as a cut in the finger or get a bruise, we support the body as a matter of course with ointment and bandages in order to restore its functionality as quickly as possible. It should be just as natural to offer the body all nutrients and vital substances through food, to optimally “care” for it so that cells, tissues and organs are sufficiently supplied. But often people do not really know what the body needs when concretely. General dietary recommendations and rules, such as watching your weight and eating less fat and sweets, are usually not enough. The Long Covid Rehabilitation (LCR) Program can support every person suffering from long covid. the LCR being a nutritional program specifically designed to regenerate the mitochondria and strengthen the immune system. Here, a tailor-made nutrition plan is created on the basis of your individual blood values, taking into account the respective long covid symptoms. Specific attention is paid to the distribution of macronutrients. At the same time, foods with a high content of vital substances, especially magnesium, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids are chosen for the plan. Thus, with the LCR program, you can regain vitality and life energy step by step.