Covid-19 has lived with us now for over two years and hopefully we are beginning to find ways through it.  However, as a Nutritionist it concerns me that so much of the discussion is about vaccination with less of a discussion about what people can do for themselves.

We can all be proactive in the face of Covid-19.  It doesn’t mean we won’t get it, particularly as the Omicron variant is so transmissible.  However, there are things we can do to help with the outcomes.

A Healthy Diet shown to have positive outcomes

The Zoe Study is the world’s largest study Covid-19 study and Nutrition study funded by the Department of Health and Social Care in the UK.  It has almost 4.7million contributors worldwide analysing research from around the world.  All data is analysed by a team from Zoe and the King’s College, London.

The Zoe Study found that those who ate the healthiest diet, defined as plant based with oily fish, fermented foods and wholegrains, were 10% less like to say they had Covid-19 and 40% less likely to require treatment in hospital.  In another self-reported study drinking 2 to 3 cups of coffee a day and eating vegetables were associated with reduced risk of Covid-19 (Vu et al, 2021).  And in a study by Merino et al. (2021) reduced disease severity was also associated with a diet full of fruit and vegetables.  The Authors also noted nutrition should be considered for Covid-19 risk and severity.

Probiotics may help in recovery

Probiotics may also be useful in preventing or helping a Covid-19 infection.  A healthy microbiome may help reduce the effects of Covid-19 and support prevention and recovery (Mirashrafi et al, 2021).  Most recently, researchers using a specific probiotic strain found probiotics had a positive action on the immune system and helped modulate Covid-19 (Gutiérrez-Castrellón et al, 2022).  The authors note more research is required, but it is still a promising outcome.   There is more research continuing in this area to examine the benefits of specific probiotic strains.  Hopefully we will hear more about these in the near future.

Mushrooms modulate the immune system

We can’t talk about the immune system without mentioning mushrooms!  There is very little research on mushrooms and Covid-19, but we do know that mushrooms have both anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects (Valverde et al., 2015).  In a preliminary trial by Hifas da Terra (2020) nursing home residents given a mushroom nutraceutical, saw their fatality rate reduced from 24% to 1%.  This Group didn’t develop the complications, commonly associated with the disease and hospital admissions were reduced from 27% to 12.3%.  Mushrooms are a powerhouse of nutrients.  They contain vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates.  Their ability to support the immune system make them an essential component of any healthy diet. 

Looking after your health also means getting good sleep, taking exercise and managing stress.  Good sleep and exercise support the immune system, whilst stress has a negative effect.  A healthy diet, which includes fruit, vegetables, probiotics or fermented foods and mushrooms can all help strengthen your immunity; all important factors in being exposed to any disease.  There is so much we can do to help ourselves, so have that cup of coffee, plan your meals and get out in the air!

  1. The Zoe Study [Accessed 17.01.2022]
  2. Vu, T.-H.T et al., 2021. Dietary Behaviours and Incident Covid-19 in the UK Biobank.  Nutrients, 13, 2114.
  3. Merino et al., 2021. Diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19: a prospective cohort study. Gut 70:2096–2104.
  4. Mirashrafi et al., 2021.  The efficacy of probiotics on virus titres and antibody production in virus diseases: A systematic review on recent evidence for COVID-19 treatment. Clinical Nutrition ESPEN 46 :1-8
  5. Gutiérrez-Castrellón et al, 2022. Probiotic improves symptomatic and viral clearance in Covid19 outpatients: a randomized, quadruple-blinded, placebo-controlled trial. Gut Microbes Vol. 14. No. 1.
  6. Valverde et al., 2015.  Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life.  International Journal of Microbiology, Volume 2015, Article ID 376387.
  7. Hifas da Terra, 2022. [Accessed 17.01.2022]

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