WHAT I LEARNED DURING MY BOUT WITH COVID-19 + UP-TO-DATE NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES Ellen Kettridge
At the end of summer, just as the weather was getting its real first autumn chill and cases of COVID-19 were starting to increase all over England, I had the chance to meet, up close and personal, this virus that’s brought our world to a screeching halt.
MY MAIN SYMPTOMS
The symptoms I had with COVID-19 were like nothing I’ve ever felt before, and were very different than a cold or flu.
I was symptomatic for about 14 days total, though had some longer-lasting residual effects for a couple weeks longer, mainly a feeling like I was walking around at high elevation – i.e. there was not enough oxygen getting to my cells and I was more easily fatigued.
My symptoms started as a mild fever and a headache, and the next day moved into my lungs. Climbing stairs left me fatigued. And walking too quickly made my heart pound to the point where I could hear it in my ears.
I then began to lose my sense of smell, which was one of the trippiest parts of the entire experience. I was only able to sense texture, heat and cold. Things were chewy or crunchy or soft. That was it! No more enjoyment from food than that.
Next came the digestive symptoms, though actually they overlapped with the loss of taste and smell. These lasted the longest for me. Mostly mild nausea and other mild digestive complaints, coming and going for a total of about 7 days. I also had very little appetite for a couple days.
Throughout the 14 days I felt “wonky” and definitely had more fatigue. I was mostly able to keep working from my self-quarantine at home, though had to cancel a few clients due to the fatigue.
MANAGING THE FEAR
Early on in the process I found myself waking up at night with a lot of fear. It is of course a little intimidating to feel a pathogen making its way through one’s body at a quick pace, stopping in every major organ system and causing a variety of concerning (though for me, overall mild) symptoms.
Add to that the collective fear around this particular virus, and it can be quite disconcerting to say the least!
I did the following:
– I began to practice daily centering, grounding and clearing exercises.
– I deactivated my facebook account for the entirety of the infection
– I stayed off news media, and stayed very present with my body and my experience.
– I got outside into my yard, sat in the sun, and soaked in the healing energies of nature as much as the weather allowed for.
By about day 5 I felt a huge wave of the fear that I had been navigating process through my system and clear completely, never to return. From that point forward I was able to accept this invader into the private space of my body as something that I could connect with with a level of clear-headed awareness and presence.
I simply kept doing my thing of taking the supplements I knew would keep my immune system optimally functional, while eating a very low-inflammatory, nutrient dense diet, to give my body the best chance possible of having no long term effects from my encounter with this virus.
I had been taking immune-supportive supplements for months at this point, so I just slightly increased the doses of what I was taking, and made sure to have absolutely no sugar, gluten, dairy, or processed food, as I knew that would increase the inflammation in my body.
In addition to the very clean diet I maintained throughout the active infection and beyond, and my intentional walk with acknowledging and then clearing the fear that came up for me early on in the infection, the supplement routine I followed daily was:
Vitamin D3 – 5,000iu
Liposomal Vitamin C – 2 to 3mg in divided doses
Zinc – 30mg daily
Quercetin – 400mg daily
These supplements are consistently indicated in both prevention and treatment for viral infections. But please follow the recommendations of your medical doctor or other medical professional when it comes to supplementation, as we are all different, and the specifics of supplementation for YOU always needs to be considered alongside other medications you may be taking as well as other health conditions you may have.
Luckily, about 7 weeks out from the infection now, I seem to NOT have fallen into the category of COVID-19 “Long-Haulers” which many are finding themselves in.
I am keeping my eyes peeled for studies and data that indicate the best ways to support those who are having longer-term lasting effects from their infection as that is an area of rising concern. My current thoughts for anyone who is finding themselves in that category, is to commit to eating a low-inflammatory, nutrient dense diet, as we do know that real food heals, and often more quickly and effectively than we might imagine.
UP-TO-DATE NUTRITIONAL GUIDELINES FOR COVID-19
There is VERY exciting research (from a small study in Spain) indicating that higher dosing with Vitamin D is keeping folks out of the ICU and is indicated in lower overall morbidity rates.
Another study done in the US from blood samples from 190,000 Americans found that people with “deficient” levels of vitamin D were at 54% higher risk of having the coronavirus.
Additionally, just over 8% of those with “adequate” vitamin D levels and 6% of those with high levels had COVID-19.
If you haven’t already been taking Vitamin D at a daily maintenance dose of between 1,000 – 4,000iu which is what Dr Mark Hyman recommends, you might want to consider getting a vitamin D blood test done to see what your levels are.
Because this nutrient is proving to be so important for reducing morbidity and mortality, it’s probably the #1 supplement to consider supplementing with throughout this fall and upcoming winter.
Remember that Vitamin D is important for supporting positive moods, bone health and overall immunity in addition to it’s clear ability to prevent a worse outcome from a COVID-19 infection.
+++Folks with darker skin are at worse risk for COVID-19 morbidity, due to the higher levels of melanin in the skin, which protect from the sun’s rays, but also make one’s ability to produce adequate Vitamin D lower. So please share this recommendation to test your vitamin D levels, and consider supplementation with all your friends, family and loved ones, but especially those who have darker skin, as POC are being hit harder and having worse outcomes.+++
As we age, we also lose our natural ability to produce Vitamin D from sun exposure, so the older you are, the more likely it is your vitamin D levels are inadequate. A Vitamin D3 blood test is easy to get and any medical doctor should be able to order it for you.
For all the up-to-date info in detail on Vitamin C’s remarkable immune benefits for COVID-19, please go to Patrick Holsford’s website, where details of statistical significance and what the studies that have been done mean, are shared.
Highlights of the article include:
– 2/3 reduction in mortality with high dose IV Vitamin C for critically ill patients.
– In ICU, almost all COVID-19 patients were low in vitamin C, however those lowest did not survive, while those with much higher levels did.
In my research in preparation for writing this article, I am grateful to have come across some recommendations from Dr Joel Fuhrman for a simple acronym to remember what to eat to support optimal immune function, not to mention have a real leg up at preventing the major chronic health issues of our time – diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.
The acroymn is GBOMBS
G = Greens
All dark leafy greens are high in a multitude of phytonutrients, and most specifically Vitamins A and C, which are both essential nutrients for maintaining a healthy immune function. Green are also high in fiber, which supports healthy detoxification and feed good gut bacteria. 80% of the immune system resides in the gut, so we must keep our gut bacteria well fed!
B = Beans
High in protein, B vitamins and antioxidants + fiber! Protein is essential for proper immune function, and many, especially the elderly, do not get enough protein. Did you know protein malnutrition is a risk factor for death from infections?
O = Onions
Very high in Quercetin, a bioflavanoid found in many fruits and vegetables that’s quickly becoming recognized as a nutritional superstar when it comes to its immune-modulating benefits. Specifically, it reduces inflammatory mediators, including cytokines, which are what seem to be doing much of the damage with COVID-19.
M = Mushrooms
Very effective in supporting healthy immune function. Plus, did you know that mushrooms are one of the very few foods that naturally make/contain Vitamin D?
B = Berries
Very rich in vitamin C, in addition to many other phytonutrients. Choose a rainbow of color in your berry selection to get the most broad-spectrum nutritional support.
S = Seeds
Great sources of protein, fiber and certain key nutrients like zinc (especially pumpkin seeds) which is another essential nutrient for supporting healthy immunity.
Given the very real risks for temporary as well as longer term health issues arising from infection with COVID-19, why not start making these foods a part of your daily diet so you don’t have to live in fear, and can take proactive steps towards supporting the health and longevity of yourself and your family!
Even with all the research into nutritional sciences these days and the clear data supporting the wisdom of adopting a whole foods diet for it’s general health benefits, I think we are still, as a whole, not turning our attention enough to the fact that our chronic health crises, including the over-active immune response with COVID-19 (which is causing the severe illness and mortality) are linked to inflammation, nutritional deficiencies, and chronic stress.
THE BAD NEWS
We eat ourselves into our disease states. 😞
THE GOOD NEWS
We can eat our way back into good health! 🙂
It starts with adopting one habit at a time. What healthy food are you inspired to bring into your daily diet from the list I’ve shared with you today?
I would be very curious to see what committing to such a diet might do for those who are COVID-19 “Long-Haulers”.
I hope we can see some clear data on that soon, but if you have had a COVID-19 infection and are struggling with lasting side effects, consider cutting out all inflammatory foods and sugar, and adopting the dietary approach offered here, and let me know how you feel in one month’s time.
p.s. My formal training is in nutrition. I don’t have as much training in herbs and have very little training in homeopathy, so I haven’t shared about these treatment and prevention options. I do know that there are many wonderful options in both of these categories, and more! I also forgot to mention that I was getting acupuncture (post the 14 day isolation period) and was given some chinese herbal remedies from my acupuncturist which were targeted for post-COVID healing support, including herbs that are used for when someone is at high altitude. I know these were very helpful in my full recovery. I appreciate folks sharing what has worked for them in the comments, etc., as we are all learning together right now.
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