Nutrition Support for Post-Covid Fatigue

What we choose to eat after suffering through a viral infection can have a profound effect on our speed of recovery, especially when symptoms of fatigue persist. 

Whilst over 1.3 million (and counting) South Africans have recovered from their COVID-19 infections, there seem to be long-term health consequences of the infection, termed “post-viral fatigue”. Some of the main symptoms of this include: pain and light sensitivity, extreme fatigue, headaches, dizziness, foggy brain, sleep disturbances and sometimes even depression.

Although we have no targeted research on the nutrition support for post-viral fatigue after Covid-19, there are a number of areas that it makes good sense to focus on.

1. Start with the Basics

Having post-viral fatigue means that you may not have the same energy to shop, cook and eat as before. Now is the time to think practically whilst still being kind to your body. Take advantage of online grocery delivery services, or stock up on ready-made meals. Eating a ready-made meal from one of our many providers on the North Coast will still be better nutritionally for you than skipping a meal, choosing a processed snack bar, or takeaways. If you are able to prepare your own meals (or can enlist the help of a family member or friend), then focus on the below key nutrition tips.

Key Nutrition Tips:

  • Choose more plant-based foods: vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, beans, pulses and wholegrains. Eat a variety of plant foods each day as they are rich in nutrients that build your immune system and boost your overall wellbeing.
  • Eat quality sources of protein with your meals: eggs chicken, nuts, tofu, beans and lentils. 
  • Include healthy fats in your meals: olive oil, olives, avocado, nuts, seeds and oily fish.
  • Make sure to keep healthier snacks on hand such as nuts, seeds and fresh fruits. 

2. Focus on Gut Health

There is a growing body of evidence demonstrating that gut health can influence a number of symptoms like those we see in Post-Covid Fatigue. We know that a healthy gut bacteria influences mood disorders such as depression and the immune system and our susceptibility to subsequent infections. It makes good sense then to support gut health through avoiding refined foods, eating a variety of plant-based foods, including fermented foods, and considering supplementation with probiotics. 

3. Focus on Bringing Down Inflammation

Covid-19 is associated with the development of excessive inflammation in the body. Whilst you are recovering from this it makes sense to follow an anti-inflammatory diet (much like that mentioned above), as well as to make lifestyle changes and include anti-inflammatory supplements. Focus on decreasing stress in your life wherever possible and ensure that you are getting adequate sleep. If you feel ready for exercise, make sure that you start slow and low so as to not over-extend yourself. Dietary supplements such as Omega 3 Fish Oil are also key to bringing down inflammation in the body.

4. Support Your Mitochondria

Mitochondria are widely touted as the energy producers of the body. Whilst the body of evidence is still growing, mitochondrial dysfunction may play a role in prolonged fatigue. It is prudent therefore to take steps to support your mitochondrial wellbeing in order to rule out dysfunction as a potential cause of your fatigue. The first step to take would be to focus on a diet rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants i.e. choose lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. In addition to this you may consider targeted supplements such as Coenzyme Q10, a B Vitamin Complex and Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) as these are all supportive of mitochondrial function.

Final Thoughts: Eat Your Way to a Speedy Recovery

Overall, what you eat can greatly impact your recovery from post-viral fatigue. Try to be practical and focus on eating a variety of wholefoods, with an emphasis on antioxidant-rich plant foods. Take advantage of one of our fantastic ready-made meal service providers if you need to, and whilst they are no replacement for a healthy diet, choose targeted supplements where needed.

Here are some of our favourite products to beat post-viral fatigue:

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