Long Covid symptoms are a real phenomenon, with the claim of being “the first illness created through patients finding one another on Twitter." (1) Large groups of people connecting through social media eventually gained the attention of the scientific community, pushing for research which validated Long Covid as an official medical condition (referred to by the medical community as Post-Acute Covid-19 Syndrome or PACS).
The growing body of evidence regarding what drives this inflammatory response has allowed for targeted healing treatments to help people get back to their former health. Dietary interventions along with select nutrients to address mitochondrial function, inflammation and rebalancing the gut have demonstrated significant improvement in treating this syndrome.
Incidence of Long Covid
A study completed in Ireland in 2020 examined both hospitalized and outpatient individuals suffering from Covid and determined that 52% of study participants suffered continued fatigue 6 weeks following Covid. In this study, severity of disease (hospitalized vs not) had no impact on whether or not individuals continued to suffer fatigue. (5)
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 13 U.S. adults have Long Covid symptoms (ie: symptoms they did not have prior to Covid and which have lasted more than three months after first contracting Sars CoV-2). Adults aged 50-59 are three times as likely to suffer Long Covid compared to adults aged 80 and older. Women are more likely than men to develop Long Covid (9.4% vs 5.5%). (6)
A study completed in 2020 looked at three hospitals in Hong Kong and found that after three months, 86 out of 106 Covid positive patients still had symptoms and after six months 81 of 106 patients continued with symptoms of fatigue, poor memory, hair loss, anxiety and trouble sleeping. (7)
Common symptoms of Long Covid
Long Covid is defined as symptoms that were not present prior to Sars-CoV-2 infection that persist for 3 months or greater following infection. These symptoms often include:
Fatigue. Loss of smell
Dry eyes/mouth Cough
Runny nose Joint pain
Chest pain Hair loss
Vision problems Loss of taste
Red eyes Breathlessness
Brain fog Headache
Irregular/changed menses Muscle aches
Sputum Sore throat
Vertigo Lack of appetite
Increased or new food sensitivities or reactions
Reactivation of previous viral illness (such as Epstein Barr)
Inflammation and Long Covid
The inflammatory response that is triggered in the body by Covid 19 starts inside our cells then effects our tissues, blood vessels and organs including the heart, brain, lungs, GI tract and skeletal muscle. According to Larisa Gearhart-Serna, chronic inflammation in the nose and olfactory bulb has been associated with Long Covid. The olfactory bulb is the part of the brain that processes smells but is also involved in emotion and learning. The chronic inflammation in the olfactory system was correlated with behavioral changes such as depression and anxiety. (2)
SARS CoV-2 enters the cell through the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor. These receptors are highly expressed in the tissues of the heart, lungs, and kidneys. (8) Research is revealing that this virus binds to our ACE2 receptors thus preventing our natural angiotensin 2 from binding. Angiotensin 2 helps decrease inflammation, protects blood vessels from constricting, prevents cell death and hardening of the tissues (fibrosis). (8)
Covid and the gut
The coronavirus creates increased permeability of the gut membrane leading to symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, continued respiratory symptoms and food allergies/intolerances. Stool sample analysis of patients suffering from Long Covid have demonstrated significantly decreased microbial diversity and abundance. (7) Not only are opportunistic bacteria counts higher in Long Covid individuals, but beneficial bacterial counts are found to be lower - especially two strains of bacteria known to produce the post biotic butyrate (an anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acid). (7)
Eating to repair Long Covid
An anti-inflammatory diet rich in key nutrients such as polyphenols, fiber, vitamin C, curcumin and omega 3's can help the body reduce inflammation triggered by Covid 19. If you are interested in a specific diet the best one to follow would be the Mediterranean diet with a focus on fish, salmon, seafood and vegetables with healthy plant fats. A great cookbook can be found here.
Foods to focus on include:
Apples Dark chocolate
Cranberries Black and green olives
Cherries Fresh ground flax seeds
Foods to help repair the gut by rebalancing the microbiome include:
Cranberry (unsweetened) Blueberries
Green tea Plantain
Pomegranate Cooked and cooled potatoes
Targeted supplements to repair the gut and improve mitochondrial function
As discussed, SARS CoV-2 enters the cell using the ACE2 receptor and prevents our natural angiotensin 2 from binding. This action triggers significant inflammation both in our cells and in our vascular system, effecting our organs. To counter this activity, some researchers suggest that using supplements to promote our ACE2 cellular function is key to reducing chronic inflammation. Targeted nutritional therapy includes Vitamin D and polyphenols including curcumin and resveratrol. A literature review found six studies demonstrating that people given curcumin had a significant decrease in duration of symptoms, hospitalization and death. (9)
Additional key supplemental support includes omegas for cognitive function (brain fog, mood), CoQ 10 to assist in mitochondrial energy function - particularly in the heart and skeletal muscle and NAD/NAC to promote brain derived neurotrophic factors and increase intracellular levels of glutathione, the most potent intracellular anti-oxidant.
We have developed an Immune Support Protocol using the latest scientific evidence and our most trusted supplement brands to try and simplify your immune support routine.
Long Covid is a real condition. As always, we promote individualized care so depending on your personal situation, other health conditions and how long you have suffered Long Covid you may require more in depth testing to determine your specific health status. Although we have cited evidence for our supplement and diet recommendations, please note that these statements are not approved by the FDA. Any recommendations made in this blog are not meant to replace medical advice or an appropriate evaluation by a qualified healthcare provider.