Nutrition in the News: Nutrition and Improved Covid Outcomes
Nutrition and Improved Covid Outcomes
As we approach another Winter with the threat of new and varied Covid-19 strains, how can you best protect yourself from Long Covid or worse outcomes?
The importance of Antioxidants
The findings from a recent study have been published in Food Science and Nutrition in September 2022, have highlighted the benefits of antioxidant vitamins C and D and minerals selenium and zinc in improving the outcomes of COVID-19.
Covid-19 and Oxidative Stress
Recent research on COVID-19 has indicated that oxidative stress could be one of the main reasons behind the severity of infection and symptoms.
It is now well known that comorbidities such as cardiovascular diseases, kidney disease and diabetes increase the risk of severe COVID-19 because these conditions increase oxidative stress levels in the body.
Oxidative stress is an increase in the production of free radicals which damage cells and tissues, increase inflammation and impair the immune system. Antioxidants neutralise the free radicals so that they can not cause damage. An imbalance occurs if there is excess oxidative stress with an insufficient intake of antioxidants
Antioxidants are a range of nutrients that are either water-soluble or fat-soluble and will therefore work together to protect different cells and tissues.
The researchers looked at Vitamins A. E. C, D and minerals selenium and zinc and looked at a number of human observational studies
Vitamins C, D and minerals selenium and zinc showed promise in lowering the severity of disease and improving Covid-19 outcomes.
Vitamin C improved lung function, reduced inflammatory markers and improved mortality.
Vitamin D reduced the admissions to ICU and reduced inflammation. Other studies have shown that low vitamin D status in humans has been a factor in low oxygenation (hypoxia) and higher fever.
Zinc supplementation reduced hospitalization and ICU admissions and lowered inflammatory markers. Low zinc status has been shown to be associated with increased severity of Covid-19 symptoms.
Selenium may be associated with decreased mortality.
Whilst no studies were available to link Vitamins A and E to improved Covid outcomes, both vitamins have important roles to play when it comes to Covid-19. Vitamin A is important for the health of the immune system and to strengthen the respiratory mucosal layer where antibodies are produced. Vitamin E is important for modulating the immune system (i.e. stopping it going into over-drive).
In my practice I believe many clients may lack sufficient zinc, selenium, vitamin D and vitamin C. This is the right time of year to give your body a nutritional immunity “boost” by supplementing with these key nutrients.
The importance of probiotics
In a separate study, probiotics improved Covid-19 symptoms and helped clear the virus
Using the ‘gold standard’ in clinical trials, a randomized, quadruple-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was conducted on 300 adults with Covid symptoms (aged 18-60 almost 50:50 men:women). It included 42% of adults with known risk factors for more severe Covid outcomes. Half the group received a probiotic with specific bacterial strains, whilst the other half received a placebo for 30 days.
53% of the probiotic group were in complete remission (no symptoms) compared to 28% in the placebo group.
Levels of antibodies IgG and IgM were significantly higher in the probiotic group, helping to support immune function.
Inflammatory markers were lower in the probiotic group.
Recovery time was reduced overall by 5 days.
The probiotic group also experienced better digestive symptom outcomes compared to the placebo group.
Many parts of the body have their own unique microbiota, and this includes the lungs. The gut microbiome communicates with these other discrete microbial communities, influencing their action. In this case, it is the “gut-lung axis” that is implicated through this trial. It is thought the probiotic has influenced the immune system.
Support your body with good nutrition and probiotics this Winter to maximise your immune resilience.
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