Foods You Should Eat If You Have COVID

No single food has been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19 infections, but that doesn’t mean nutritional needs should be ignored.

Many of the symptoms associated with the disease can lead to poor eating habits and potential malnutrition, leading to weakened immune function and worsened health outcomes.

Your gastrointestinal tract is the largest organ of your immune system. An unhealthy gut can lead to increased inflammation and a higher risk of infection. But this also means that we have the opportunity to improve our chances of better health status by eating good foods.

What Foods Should You Avoid?

Perhaps the most apparent guideline is to avoid foods that make you feel worse. Don’t eat if it makes your nausea or gastrointestinal issues worse. And if you have any underlying digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you should avoid foods that trigger your symptoms.

You should also generally avoid foods that are commonly known to be unhealthy, such as:

  • junk food
  • ultra-processed meals
  • foods high in saturated and unhealthy fats (such as fried foods)
  • foods high in sugar (such as candy, cookies, and soda)
  • alcohol

It is also recommended that you should limit your consumption of processed carbohydrates, including:

  • white bread
  • pasta
  • white rice
  • foods made with refined sugars

These high-carbohydrate foods can lead to increased inflammation and the production of reactive oxygen species—a metabolic byproduct associated with cell and tissue damage.

Should You Take Vitamin Supplements?

Vitamins and minerals play an essential role in maintaining a strong immune system. But the clinical evidence does not support the general recommendation to use supplements to prevent or treat COVID-19.

For people who are generally healthy and have a nutritious diet, there is probably no need to take extra vitamins or supplements.

However, suppose you have a poor diet or underlying health conditions affecting nutrient absorption. In that case, deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals could make you more susceptible to infections and worsen your symptoms. In these cases, supplementing specific vitamins and minerals can help correct the deficiency and improve your health.

But for people who are not deficient, consuming excess vitamins and minerals probably won’t improve your health and could be harmful.

What Foods Should You Eat?

International nutritional guidelines suggest that a healthy diet—any healthy diet—is a good diet for COVID-19.

There is no one “perfect” diet that will work for everyone, but there are some general principles you should be mindful of:

  • Eat a variety of whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Focus on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Limit your consumption of red and processed meats.
  • Limit or avoid sugary drinks and alcoholic beverages.
  • Choose healthy fats, such as olive oil, over unhealthy fats, such as butter.
  • Maintain a healthy weight by balancing your energy intake with your physical activity level.

Plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, are especially important for a healthy diet. These foods are high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that are essential for a strong immune system and for reducing inflammation and tissue damage.

No magic food can protect you from COVID-19, but a healthy diet is always a good idea. Eating various nutritious foods will help you maintain a strong immune system and improve your overall health.