When it comes to preventing COVID-19, health measures such as wearing a mask in public places, vaccination, and boosters remain crucial. But even with those protections, you could be faced with a breakthrough case of COVID-19. According to the latest information from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), current COVID-19 vaccines are expected to protect against severe illness and hospitalization. Sill, breakthrough cases of COVID-19 in people who are fully vaccinated are likely to happen, the agency notes. For more mild cases of COVID-19 that you can recover from at home, your kitchen may offer some relief. Here’s a list of foods and drinks that may help support your immune system as it fights off COVID-19.
This sick-day food is an old standby for a reason. More than other hot liquids, this soup has been shown to increase mucus flow and that helps flush out viruses. This is due to a certain amino acid, called cysteine, in chicken soup that can affect mucus flow. Chicken soup is especially effective when it’s homemade.
While you’re whipping up your chicken noodle soup, toss in potatoes! These starchy veggies can help regulate fluid balance thanks to their potassium. Fluid balance is crucial when you’re fighting COVID-19 because it’s a respiratory illness and dehydration can thicken respiratory secretions and make them hard to clear from your lungs.
Sugar-Free, Fruit-Based Popsicles
These frozen treats can provide hydration and some nutrition, as well as soothe a sore throat if that’s one of your symptoms. Keeping hydration levels high will help with immune system function, according to experts. Not having enough fluids predisposes you to infection, which then speeds your fluid loss. A fluid deficit seems to develop slowly in COVID-19, so make sure to keep your hydration levels high even when you’re not thirsty.
If you’re experiencing diarrhea, make sure to replenish your electrolytes. Experts note that electrolytes are minerals your body needs to thrive. When you have diarrhea, your body flushes out a lot of electrolytes that need to be replaced so you can heal and not feel weak. Often, people go to sports drinks, but coconut water is an excellent way to hydrate with natural electrolytes and no sugar. To avoid consuming added sugar, which can hamper immunity, opt for plain, unsweetened coconut water.
Oats, Popcorn, and Other Whole Grains
COVID-19 causes inflammation in the body much like any virus. So when you’re infected, including foods that have anti-inflammatory properties may be helpful. One easily accessible food group that can allow you to reap the benefits are whole grains. In a review of nine randomized controlled trials, which was published in October 2018 in Medicine, researchers found whole grain intake was associated with lowered inflammation markers in 838 people across nine different studies and populations studied. Oats, plain popcorn, brown rice, and whole-wheat bread are all options, according to Mayo Clinic.
Whole Fruits and Veggies
Eating naturally vitamin-rich produce is important for health regardless of whether you’ve been exposed to the novel coronavirus. But these whole, anti-inflammatory foods have promising benefits for accelerating your recovery. A study published in September 2021 in the journal Gut found that a plant-based diet not only lowered risk of developing COVID-19, but also reduced symptom severity for those who contracted the virus. You already know potatoes are beneficial, but try opting, too, for other choices, like watermelon, strawberries, cucumbers, and iceberg lettuce.
Soft Foods Like Applesauce and Smoothies
If one of your symptoms is an upset stomach, experts suggest having anti-inflammatory foods in an easily digestible form, such as applesauce or a smoothie. Adding some of the whole anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies previously mentioned to your smoothie can be helpful in speeding up your recovery.
As mentioned, a plant-based diet may aid recovery from COVID-19. In your eating plan, be sure to feature protein from sources like nuts, seeds, and nut butter. Noshing on foods high in protein is important for keeping muscle mass intact during the time that you’re likely cutting way back on physical activity. Also, COVID-19 is a hypermetabolic state, which means your body is burning more fuel to speed you toward recovery, and if you don’t replace that fuel, it can lead to more fatigue. Animal sources are also an option, experts say. However, a study published in May 2019 in Current Developments in Nutrition found that plant-based protein may be a better squelcher of inflammation than animal protein.
Sources of omega-3 fatty acids including fish may help lower the inflammation that comes with COVID-19, according to a research review published in December 2020 in Infection & Chemotherapy. Those researchers suggest that omega-3 fatty acids have been shown through previous research to be incorporated throughout the body into a certain layer of your cell membranes. This process can help mitigate inflammation, they note, and that may have an antiviral effect.
Greek yogurt is a great source of protein and it’s also a fermented food, which may help diminish the severity or duration of a COVID-19 episode. Researchers note that fermented foods and probiotics may deliver beneficial microbes to the digestive system, which has a direct impact on immunity, as well as lung function.
Warm Tea with Honey
Like chicken soup, warm tea can help break down mucus and get if flushed from your body, taking bits of virus with it. Instead of sugar, add honey to your tea. Honey before bed may improve your sleep when you have COVID-19, and it also has antimicrobial properties that help improve the immune response.
If you do come down with a breakthrough case of COVID-19, consider consuming these suggested foods and drinks based on your symptoms. Experts emphasize that no one food will make COVID-19 go away, nor will a single dietary approach. Make sure to pay attention to your symptoms and your body, and if you have signs like trouble breathing, persistent chest pressure or pain, or confusion, seek immediate medical attention.