Nutrition & health in a post-COVID world
Head of Nutrition Research Sophie Medlin, and Dr. Chris George discuss food, nutrition and exercise.
Sophie Medlin: Head of Nutrition Research at Heights, registered dietitian, Chair for the British Dietetic Association in London and Founder of City Dieticians.
Dr. Chris George: MBBS, Bsc, MRCS, MRCGP and NHS GP based in London, UK.
(Resources can be found at the bottom.)
Does higher BMI increase COVID-19 severity?
Overweight and obesity are common risk factors for disease severity of COVID-19 patients.
Current data shows that overweight people are suffering more, and are taking longer to recover from COVID.
The Effect of COVID-19 on Eating, Diets and Weight Gain
People are unable to go to the gym due to coronavirus restrictions.
Various restaurants have been shut, meaning people have to change their habits in terms of the food they’re picking and eating.
COVID has also taken a toll on mental health. This causes people to emotionally eat which can lead to weight gain if they’re consistently making different food choices.
Exercising During COVID-19
Gentle, moderate exercise, getting good sleep, and eating a well balanced diet is key.
Moderation is important. Hard-core exercise lowers your immunity for a short period of time, and puts a huge amount of stress on your body. Instead, try to implement good quality long-term exercise. Don’t overdo it- a simple 20-minute walk will do!
Find alternative, simple ways to exercise on Zoom, Youtube, etc.
Find a partner to work out with who will hold you accountable.
Be consistent and make sure to rest.
Immunity & Supplementation
Steer clear of products that claim to have ‘COVID immune-boosting’ properties- it’s just a marketing strategy, there’s no evidence behind it.
Instead practice making healthy lifestyle choices like healthy eating and getting physical activity.
Whenever you are fighting any kind of infection or low-level virus, your body uses a lot of micronutrients- particularly vitamin C and zinc. Research shows that if you have a cold or virus, taking vitamin C and zinc in combination shortens the life of that infection.
Supplements are an effective way of offering yourself an insurance policy. If you’re not eating your 5-a-day, following a vegan or vegetarian diet, or cutting out foods, you need to be supplementing.
If you are looking for a plant based premium quality supplement - Heights’ smart supplements include omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and 18 other key nutrients your brain needs in the right dosages, according to science.
Is there a correlation between gut symptoms and COVID?
There is a link between mental health and gut symptoms. Mental health directly impacts gut health, read more about this here.
If you have a pre-existing IBS profile, having COVID will likely affect your gut.
There is a strong psychological impact on IBS, so you could be experiencing general and post-COVID anxiety.
Are you noticing anxiety about getting into shape before the world opens up?
There is this ongoing pressure year-on-year about getting into shape before summer. People have gained weight during the pandemic, so there certainly is pressure.
If you are going to embark on a diet, fad diets don’t work. People have been shown to lose weight and then regain it within a short period of time.
It is important that your diet is long-term, sustainable and healthy.
Fasting ultimately means skipping meals, resulting in missing opportunities for micronutrients, vitamins and minerals which are important for our immune systems.
Make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy whole grains, good lean protein, and lots of plants.
Vitamin D & COVID-19
The relationship between vitamin D and COVID-19 is still unknown, but on average 80% of people who are hospitalised are deficient in the vitamin.
Plays an important role in general immunity, and is important for immune function.
The NHS recommends that everyone should be taking vitamin D supplements between October and April.
With our Smart Supplement, you get 20 mcg (800 IU) of vitamin D- that’s the equivalent of 20 eggs or 12 tablespoons of fortified margarine.
Vitamin C & COVID-19
Vitamin C cannot prevent COVID, but it can reduce the duration of illness.
We need to be cautious of the popularization of mega doses of vitamin C. It puts your body under a lot of pressure to process and excrete it.
Beware of misinformation about the COVID vaccines on social media.
The misinformation claiming the vaccines are untested and unsafe is causing hesitancy.
The process has been sped up due to the money, time, energy, and amount of people working towards the same cause.
The vaccines are safe, effective, and one of best public health measures we have to date.
If we want to return to normality, vaccinations are a must. Our own individual health is only as strong as our community.