When it comes to treating COVID-19, seeking care instructions from your healthcare provider along with following basic safety guidelines like wearing a double mask, self-isolating and frequent hand-washing are crucial.
That being said, watching what you eat can also help alleviate some of the symptoms and aid recovery.
“Maintaining a diet high in fruits and vegetables is important as they are replete with vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, C, magnesium and zinc among others,” says Dr. Adrienne Youdim, an internist who specializes in medical weight loss and nutrition. In addition, antioxidants and polyphenols found in certain fruits and veggies also enhance immunity, reduce inflammation and promote metabolic health—all of which are important in times of infection and particularly COVID-19 given its predisposition of affecting people with metabolic disease more severely, adds Dr. Youdim.
“If you’re down with the Omicron variant, your throat might be on fire. Some people say their throat feels like it has razor blades in it. Who wants to eat a heavy burger or a big bowl of pasta while you’re feeling that way? Opt for lighter foods instead,” says Dr. Robert G. Lahita aka Dr. Bob, director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at Saint Joseph Health and author of Immunity Strong.
Broths and soups are the best option. “Not only are broths and soups great for hydration when sick, but they are also easy to cook when you may be feeling weak or exhausted,” says Pomroy. “You can opt for a soup with pureed vegetables for added benefits,” she says.
Even soft-cooked vegetables like carrots, onions and spinach are ideal, says Dr. Lahita. In addition, celebrity nutritionist Haylie Pomroy recommends loading up on sweet potatoes. “It’s packed with vitamin A, which is great for fighting inflammation—a common side effect of COVID-19. You can eat these mashed or as crispy wedges if you don’t have a sore throat, she suggests.
“Foods high in omega fatty acids including fish can also be beneficial given their positive effect on immunity not to mention fish are a source of vitamin D—a nutrient whose deficiency, makes us more susceptible to respiratory infections,” notes Dr Youdim.
Dr. Youdim also recommends increasing use of olive oil as it’s a significant source of polyphenols—which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic properties. “They also enhance the immune response by increasing antioxidant defenses and decreasing inflammation in the tissues,” says Dr. Youdim. “Olive oil also contains omega-3 fatty acids which cause activation of both innate and adaptive immunity and have anti-inflammatory properties,” adds the internist.
You should also incorporate probiotics in your diet while you have COVID-19 as they help balance your gut microbiome which plays a key role in improving your immune function, says Dr. Lahita. Foods like yogurt, kefir, tempeh,, kimchi, miso, kombucha, traditional buttermilk and many kinds of cheese are excellent natural sources of probiotics for your gut, he says.
Meanwhile, “avoid spicy foods and lemon, orange, and other citrus as these can burn your throat and make it feel even worse. You should avoid coffee too as it can have dehydrating effects. And steer clear of hot liquids, although warm tea can help soothe a raw throat,” adds Dr. Lahita.