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Wellness Blog

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT LONG COVID?

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT LONG COVID?

LONG COVID – A NEW CONDITION?

It has been quite some time since the COVID pandemic hit us with full force, affecting our health and lifestyle in various areas. Some of these effects have been powerful with consequences that have yet to be revealed in the months and years to come.

Although social restrictions are disappearing and daily life is returning, for many people who have suffered from the virus, life is not returning to normal, as they are left with the long-term effects of the infection, the so-called “COVID dragged on".

The scientific community has come together in a combined effort to understand the triggers and drivers of long COVID symptoms, and while there is still much to discover and understand, this effort will hopefully produce additional research to help those suffering from the illness. consequences of “long COVID”.

Prolonged COVID, is it a new condition?

We delve into research to find out what happens in the body during and after infection, to help us understand the factors underlying some of the symptoms we see and to guide us towards nutritional and lifestyle interventions that may be beneficial .

Symptoms of long COVID

Although there is no clear definition or diagnostic criteria so far, long COVID has been defined as persistent symptoms and/or late or prolonged complications beyond 4 weeks from the onset of acute COVID-19 symptoms.

The largest systemic review and meta-analysis to date has identified more than 50 long-term effects associated with COVID-19. Among them, the most common include:

- Fatigue

- Difficulty breathing

- Headaches

- Joint pain

- Attention disorder

- Chest pains

- Hair loss

- Reduced kidney function.

Almost half of patients also notice a decrease in their quality of life. In the UK alone, an estimated 1.1 million (1 in 5 who tested positive) reported that symptoms persisted more than four weeks after first suspected infection.

Why are some people left with symptoms after contracting the virus?

The key is how our body reacts to a virus. In response to an acute infection, the immune system generates a powerful inflammatory response, this can leave us inflamed, generate tissue damage and other expected consequences that occur after an illness. But of course not everyone is this affected, there appears to be an association between the risk of developing long COVID symptoms and pre-existing conditions such as respiratory illnesses, higher body mass index, older age and ethnic minority individuals.

THE INFLAMMATION CYCLE

Inflammation is a key tool in our immune system's equipment when fighting infections or repairing tissue after injury. For our body, it is essential to fight a pathogen, but unfortunately this can sometimes get out of control and cause alterations, even in the long term. This is more likely to happen in predisposed individuals, being influenced by factors such as; genetic susceptibility, age, nutritional status, exposure to viral load and route of infection, presence of other infections, pre-existing chronic diseases.

In cases of COVID 19, it has been shown that many people have various signs of the disease process some time after the acute phase of infection. Tests often show elevated and altered inflammatory markers; interleukin-6 (IL-6), serum ferritin, histamine, C-reactive protein (CRP), mitochondrial protein alterations and antioxidants [e.g. e.g. peroxiredoxin 3 (PRDX3) and carbamoyl phosphate synthase (CPS1)], along with an abnormal chest x-ray/computed tomography (CT) scan.

STEP 1 - Control inflammation

Implement an anti-inflammatory diet, providing real, varied, colorful foods, plants, fiber, natural fats, quality proteins and "super foods" such as turmeric, ginger, green tea and pomegranate. In addition, it is ideal to complement with nutrients and plants with anti-inflammatory effects, such as curcumin and omega 3 to reach doses with a therapeutic effect.

Increase your intake of antioxidants, such as vitamins C , E, selenium , beta-carotene, glutathione to help quench free radicals, reduce tissue damage and improve energy levels associated with inflammation.

Tired all the time?

Most people cite fatigue as the main symptom. A study conducted in the United Kingdom showed that women (54.3%) suffered from moderate/severe fatigue more prevalent than men (29.6%). This fatigue usually coincides with dyspnea (low oxygen levels), alterations in cognitive function, sleeping difficulties, psychological distress and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Alterations at the mitochondrial and oxidation level suggest continuous damage to mitochondria and tissues.

The prevalence in fatigue symptoms is in line with previous epidemics of SARS, H1N1 and Ebola, in which a large proportion of fatigued patients have qualified for a diagnosis of Myalgia Encephalomyelitis or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS). The symptoms observed in post-COVID-19 patients partly resemble ME or CFS, which are characterized by at least six months of fatigue and exhaustion, driven by factors such as hormonal and nerve dysfunction, inflammation, compromised mitochondria, and stress. oxidative.

STEP 2 - Support mitochondria for energy production

The first step to restoring mitochondrial health and improving energy levels is to provide antioxidants such as vitamin C or Selenium , in addition to ensuring good intake of nutrients such asB complex vitamins , CoQ10, magnesium , alpha lipoic acid (ALA) , carnitine and D-ribose, all involved in mitochondrial energy production.

Nervous system and brain function

Ongoing inflammation, as well as mitochondrial damage, can have a profound effect on our nervous system and brain function. Our brain uses up to 20% of all the energy that is produced, so if that vital function is compromised, we can see a decrease in brain function that can affect us in many ways. Similar to chronic post-acute-SARS syndrome, long COVID is also associated with depression, sleep disturbances, loss of sense of smell or taste, headaches and migraines, and an increased risk of stroke, intracranial hemorrhage, and dementia. .

These symptoms are related to inflammation in the brain and CSF (cerebrospinal fluid), high amounts of proinflammatory cytokines (e.g., IL-1beta, IFN-gamma), cerebrovascular disease, low oxygen supply, medication side effects and the emotional aspect of having a serious illness. It has also been hypothesized that headaches may be caused by disrupted CSF drainage which could cause increased intracranial hypertension.

Women with a history of psychiatric illness appear to be more affected by post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, especially if they have spent a long time in the hospital.

Beyond the virus itself, the impact of isolation, lack of social contact and stress on our bodies should not be underestimated.

STEP 3 - Reduce stress and support brain function

Nourish your nervous system with real foods such as vegetables, fruits, eggs, olive oil, seeds and nuts, which provide a wide variety of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants to your body. Consider complementing all this with a good Methylated Multinutrient supplement, Essential Fatty Acids and Probiotics of good purity and bioavailability, in order to provide adequate doses of nutrients (such as B complex vitamins and omega 3) that play a key role in managing inflammation, energy levels and cognitive function.

It is essential to optimize sleep quality and control stress levels. Doing outdoor activities, practicing breathing exercises, movement or recreational routines will have great benefits for mental health and the immune system. If diet and lifestyle interventions are not enough to manage stress and anxiety, consider using calming herbs such as lemon balm, theanine, and chamomile.

lung damage

Ongoing inflammation, intensive medical treatments, and the virus itself, can lead to lung tissue damage and fibrosis, making the lungs less efficient at oxygenating the body. Therefore, shortness of breath is another post-infectious characteristic.

Those who require ICU admission and respiratory support, or who have lung problems before infection, are older, have a higher body mass index, and are ethnic minorities, are also more likely to experience shortness of breath after hospital discharge. .

Lung tissue contains a number of protective antioxidants including the enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase. During an infection, its levels can be depleted, leading to oxidative stress and increasing the risk of complications. People with pneumonia often have reduced antioxidant status and it has been suggested that supplementation with antioxidants (such as selenium andvitamin C ) may be helpful in reducing the severity of the disease.

STEP 4 - Support lung function

N-acetylcysteine ​​(NAC) is a drug that protects lung tissue from damage and has been shown to improve symptoms and prevent recurrences of bronchitis. Selenium supplementation increases levels of glutathione peroxidase (antioxidant enzyme) and may reduce the severity of pneumonia. Deep, slow nasal breathing is an excellent way to simultaneously increase blood oxygenation, improve sleep quality, reduce anxiety and depression, which can help restore energy levels after infection.

COMPROMISED DIGESTION

It has been shown that those who have suffered from COVID-19 could have alterations in the intestinal microbiota, presenting a greater abundance of opportunistic pathogens (including Streptococcus, Rothia, Veillonella and Actinomyces), Candida albicans, Candida aurisand Aspergillus flavus, and a lower abundance of beneficial bacteria (e.g. Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria) . These alterations can also alter the respiratory tract through the mucosal immune system the "gut-lung axis." Additionally, the virus can directly damage the intestinal mucosa and cause digestive symptoms, but more research is needed to confirm this.

Another concern for the gut microbiome is the long-term effect of using large amounts of detergents, household cleaning products, and hand sanitizers, which is linked to a higher incidence of inflammatory conditions and alterations in the composition of gut microorganisms. .

STEP 5 - Support gut bacteria and digestion

An excellent starting point for supporting gut function and the microbiome is to increase the levels of beneficial bacteria in your diet, either through foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha or by using a stable, clinically effective and well-balanced probiotic supplement. investigated. It is also important to consume soluble fiber, which will feed the beneficial intestinal bacteria, add volume to the stool and promote the elimination of toxins.

While research is still ongoing, what has already been discovered has many similarities to other infections and chronic conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome. Each person's long COVID symptoms are likely to be different, driven by their genetic predisposition, health status before infection, nutrient deficiencies, and treatment used during infection.

Identifying the underlying factors for persistent post-infection symptoms and how they can affect our physical and mental health makes it easier to implement a personalized nutrition and lifestyle plan that can help people feel better and regain their quality of life.

If you have questions or want to know more about the subject, you can write to nutricion@biocarechile.cl and our team of professionals will provide you with personalized advice.

Nutritionist

Valeria Riquelme

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