Long Covid: Mediterranean diet is ‘potentially advantageous’, says expert

Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children

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Glynn says: “Nutrition plays an essential role in our body’s ability to defend against and recover from infection, with some nutrients playing a particularly important role. During infection, our bodies draw protein from the muscle to create new proteins for the immune system. This will continue into the recovery stage.”

However, if patients are looking for a specific diet to follow, Glynn recommends the Mediterranean diet as the most effective.

The reason for this is because it “is an anti-inflammatory diet that’s potentially advantageous given those with long Covid have a continued inflammatory response post-infection”.

Glynn expands on what the diet in question entails: “This approach has at least five portions of fruit and vegetables consumed each day, with wholegrain sources of carbohydrates forming the basis of meals.

“Low-fat protein sources include beans, pulses, nuts, seeds, fish, eggs, and meat. A variety is important to ensure key nutrients are consumed, such as omega-3 from oily fish and walnuts.

“At least 1.5-2L of water a day should also be consumed.”

Amidst the growing number of people with long Covid there are now concerns about whether it is the next big health crisis; Glynn says it “doesn’t have to be if people are given the tools to overcome and manage symptoms”.

However, Glynn adds one of the problems is that long Covid can throw up the unexpected: “Unlike other illnesses, there is no way of predicting how long someone will take to recover. “

“In many cases people won’t have fully recovered by end of their treatment sessions, so it’s about giving them the coping strategies needed to manage symptoms, ranging from fatigue and breathlessness to muscle pain and loss of concentration or memory.

“That way they can resume a more normal life, while they continue to work on their recovery themselves.”

Even though a long Covid crisis can be avoided if the symptoms are managed, this doesn’t remove another one of the challenges long Covid brings, the range of symptoms.

Like other chronic conditions long Covid can come in waves.

Some days a person may feel fine, other days they can be bed-ridden and unable to work while others will experience a greater level of consistency in their symptoms.

Glynn says this means patients could need “access to a multi-disciplinary team of clinical experts, including nutritionists, to help improve strength and immunity”.

Although the NHS has this expertise, it can be difficult to access, a problem that will only worsen as the waiting list increases.

Due to the waiting lists employers are increasingly turning to private health providers.

However, not everyone has this luxury and amidst a cost of living crisis affecting the poorest, few can afford the expensive treatment.

As case numbers continue to grow the government will need to think more about the patients for whom there was no end to Covid when they were infected in 2020.

It is crucial while some politicians say the pandemic is over, for some it will never truly end.

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