What to eat if you have COVID, including the best foods for recovery

It happened: You tested positive for COVID-19. Plenty of rest, plenty of tissues, and over-the-counter symptom relief products can help you on the road to recovery, as well as following your doctor’s advice. But there’s one more thing to add to your treatment plan: eat the right healthy foods. “Although there is no food or diet that Absolutely relieve your COVID symptoms or make you bounce back faster, nutrition plays an important role, as it does with any virus or disease,” says Amanda Holtzer, MS, RD, dietitian at Culina Health. “You want to make sure you’re eating enough to fuel your body for the healing process, and focus on foods that are anti-inflammatory and support your immune system.”

And once you’ve recovered from COVID, it’s always important to keep nurturing your immunity to help keep you healthy and ready to fight other illnesses or future COVID reinfections. “Between 70% and 80% of the body’s immune system is housed in the gut, so eating a variety of food groups is essential for keeping the gut microbiome diverse and capable of improving overall health,” explains Laura Iu, RD, owner of Laura Iu Nutrition. “No food will suddenly boost your immune system overnight, but eating nutrient-dense foods over time does play an important role.” Focus on fiber-rich foods like whole grains, add fruits and vegetables whenever possible, include probiotic-rich foods like kimchi or kefir, cook with fats like canola and oil olive oil, and keep foods high in protein and iron in rotation, says Iu.

Ready to soothe your symptoms and boost your immune system?

Here’s what to eat when you have COVID:

Stock up on vitamin C foods.

“Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that’s extremely important for cell and tissue growth and repair, so there’s a good reason why it’s known as an immune-boosting nutrient,” says Holtzer. Vitamin C Rich Winners:

  • Red peppers
  • Oranges, grapefruits and other citrus fruits
  • Papaya
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli, cabbage and other cruciferous vegetables
  • Strawberries

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    Focus on aromatics.

    Garlic, onion, shallots, leeks, shallots, chives— they are all part of the allium family and have antibacterial and antiviral properties, so they can boost your immunity while satisfying your taste buds. Those are two biggies when you’re feeling sick. “Try grating fresh garlic into bone broth or soup,” says Holtzer.

    Focus on protein.

    Cells break down when you deal with a disease like COVID, and protein is the number one macronutrient that can help repair them, says Holtzer. When you’re feeling down, your usual protein foods like meat, fish, and legumes like beans might not be too appetizing, but these choices are also high in protein and can be more comforting:

    • Scrambled eggs
    • Bone broth or bone broth-based soups (a single cup of bone broth has about 5g of protein, according to Holtzer)
    • Yogurt or kefir
    • Smoothies with protein powder
    • Nut Butter Toast
    • Tofu

        Embrace herbs and spices.

        Many of these flavor enhancers help fight inflammation and are high in antioxidants, Iu says, and they can be especially helpful if you have a diminished or lost sense of taste. “Season heavily with bold flavors like garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, cayenne, cumin and cinnamon so the flavors can shine through,” adds Iu. Cayenne in particular is good to use if you can handle the spice — it has a high concentration of capsaicin, Iu says, an anti-inflammatory substance that gives it its kick and can help reduce nasal congestion. Fresh or dried ginger, low sodium curry mixes, nutmeg, cloves and all fresh or dried herbs also do the trick.

        Try hydrating foods.

        Hydration is super crucial to helping your body function properly, both when you’re sick and when you’re healthy. Besides the most obvious hydration solution – liquids – most fruits and vegetables are also high in H20, and many also contain minerals that function as electrolytes to help balance fluid levels in the body. But these are stars:

        • Berries
        • Melons
        • Citrus
        • Cucumber
        • Tomatoes
        • lettuces

          If you’ve lost your appetite, smell or taste, “smoothies are a great way to optimize your nutrition and hydration,” suggests Iu. “You can use fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and it’s also a great opportunity to add things like yogurt, nut butters or protein powders for an extra boost of nutrients.”

          Opt for whole grains.

          Your body also needs carbohydrates to fuel the healing process, and whole grains are an ideal choice as they contain other nutritional needs like fiber, vitamins, minerals and sometimes even a little protein. Smart choices:

          • oats
          • quinoa
          • Barley
          • Kamut
          • farro
          • Brown rice
          • Bulgur
          • Fonio
          • Teff
          • Whole wheat bread, pasta or crackers
            blueberry, walnut and banana porridge

            BURCU ATALAY TANKUTGetty Images

            Get some omega-3s.

            This type of fatty acid helps tame inflammation, an important step in recovering from illness like COVID and staying healthy when you’re on the rebound. Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include:

            • Chia seeds
            • Ground flax seeds
            • Fatty fish like salmon, herring, sardines, trout, mackerel
            • Nut

              Foods to help soothe your COVID symptoms:

              Besides helping with recovery, sometimes you just want something that actually helps you. feel better. Symptoms of COVID vary by person and variant, but here’s what can alleviate some common symptoms:

              • Fever: Choose drinks with low added sugar content such as still or sparkling water, hot or iced tea, coconut water, and sports drinks or low-sugar rehydration drinks. “Having a little sugar actually helps draw electrolytes like sodium and potassium into the body, which then helps promote fluid retention,” Iu says. You can also make your own electrolyte drink with Iu’s easy recipe: 3 ½ cups water + 1 cup 100% juice + 1/2 tsp. salt.
              • Cough or sore throat: These foods are nutrient-dense, tick several immune support boxes, and are also super comforting: smoothies, soups, curries and stews. “Mixing raw honey or Manuka honey with tea or hot water can be a helpful remedy for sore throat and cough. Additionally, these types of honey are a good source of antioxidants and have antibacterial and antifungal properties for added anti-infective power,” says Iu. Or try making a good-for-you frozen drink that feels great and tastes really good, says Holtzer: Mix a protein shake with a frozen banana and a little water or your favorite milk.
              • Diarrhea: You’ll want to increase your intake of soluble fiber, which is the type of fiber that absorbs fluids in the digestive tract and helps slow things down,” says Holtzer. foods like rolled oats, beans, barley and apples fall under this umbrella.
              • Nausea or vomiting: Focus on small portions or snacks and opt for bland foods that are easy to digest, Holtzer says, like toast, crackers, rice and pretzels. Ginger can also help calm your stomach.

                  Foods to avoid if you have COVID-19:

                  In general, it’s a good idea to limit or avoid foods high in sugar or sodium, as well as alcohol. Also avoid highly processed foods that have minimal nutritional value, such as chips, desserts, and candies.

                  At the end of the line :

                  Homemade meals that contain whole grains, protein, and lots of fruits and vegetables are ideal, as is staying well hydrated – but “it’s important to keep in mind that we all have different levels of access to food, so it’s okay if you also have to rely on meals to go,” says Iu. “At the end of the day, it’s more important that you actually eat.” This is because when you have COVID, your body is under increased stress and usually needs more calories than you could normally consume, Iu explains, as it works harder to fight off the infection.


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