The 15 joint-soothing foods that scientists now believe could treat long Covid
- A clinical trial will test if anti-inflammatory foods can reduce long Covid effects
- There is currently no proven treatment for this controversial condition
- READ MORE: Risks of long Covid have been ‘greatly exaggerated,’ study finds
It’s long been known that certain foods can lower joint pain and help treat chronic conditions like diabetes by reducing inflammation.
Now, researchers are investigating if an anti-inflammatory diet filled with foods like berries and fatty fish could treat the symptoms of long Covid, which are still largely misunderstood.
Doctors at the University of Southern California (USC) announced this week a first-of-its-kind clinical trial that will test the effect of an anti-inflammatory diet on long Covid symptoms, which experts believe impacts more than 20 million Americans.
The team is basing the trial around recent research that suggests long Covid may be caused by a hyper-inflammatory response that occurs when the body fights off the virus and doesn’t stop.
There is no proven treatment for the condition, which has caused widespread debate about symptoms being overblown or attributed to other health problems.
Dr Nuria Pastor-Soler, principal investigator and associate professor of USC’s Keck School of Medicine, said: ‘Research like ours is vital to expand our understanding of long COVID and ultimately help identify effective treatments to improve patients’ quality of life.’
‘The results of this trial will hopefully move us closer to potential solutions.’
Long Covid is a condition that includes a wide range of symptoms such as shortness of breath, brain fog, fatigue, and depression that linger for weeks or even years after recovering from the virus
USC researchers in a first-of-its-kind clinical trial that will test the effect of an anti-inflammatory diet on long Covid symptoms, which experts believe impacts more than 20 million Americans
The researchers plan to enroll 50 long Covid patients being treated at USC’s Covid Recovery Clinic. Half of the participants will receive a 30-day anti-inflammatory diet plan, while the rest will stick to their normal foods.
At the end of the month, the team will measure each patient’s inflammatory markers and long Covid symptoms. If patients tolerate the dietary intervention and show a reduction in symptoms, the researchers will expand the trial to cover a larger population.
Dr Adupa Rao, investigator and medical director of the Keck Medicine Covid Recovery Clinic, said: ‘We are examining if food choice can quiet the body’s inflammatory response and, in doing so, effectively minimize or curtail long Covid symptoms.’
This trial will be the first to examine the effect of specific foods on long Covid symptoms.
Long Covid is a condition that includes a wide range of symptoms such as shortness of breath, brain fog, fatigue, and depression that linger for weeks or even years after recuperating from the virus.
There is still serious debate about the true scale and severity of the condition, with several studies indicating that people who develop the condition would have suffered those common symptoms regardless of whether they got Covid or not.
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A study that seems to suggest long Covid is more debilitating than cancer has been branded ‘irresponsible’.
The extent of long Covid sufferers is murky, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in 13 US adults, or 7.5 percent, have long Covid, defined as symptoms lasting three or more months after first contracting the virus.
In some instances, the condition can be deadly. The CDC reported late last year that more than 3,500 Americans have died of a long-Covid-related condition in the first two and a half years of the pandemic. Most of the documented deaths occurred in older adults, with those aged between 75 and 84 years old accounting for almost 30 percent of the deaths.
Research published in August in the journal Nature Medicine claimed that long Covid is more disabling than cancer, though doctors told DailyMail.com that those claims were ‘irresponsible.’
In February, researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health gathered data from more than 32,000 female nurses and found that nurses who practiced healthy lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep and eating a healthy diet were half as likely to have long Covid.
The benefits of anti-inflammatory foods are much better understood. Fatty fish, for example, is one of the most anti-inflammatory foods due to having high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These are polyunsaturated, or ‘healthy,’ fats that help cells in the brain, heart, and endocrine system function.
The omega-3s found in these fish are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These have been shown to lower levels of fats called triglycerides in some patients, which could lower blood pressure. They have also been shown to support immune function and proper fetal development.
A 2021 study published in the journal Molecules found that a diet of fatty fish improved inflammation in adults at a high risk of diabetes and heart disease, which the experts said could help prevent both diseases.
EPA and DHA can primarily be found in salmon, herring, sardines, mackerel, trout, and anchovies.
Fruits like berries, tomatoes, and grapes have also been shown to lower inflammation. Berries are packed with antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been shown to lower inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. A 2018 review in the Journal of Berry Research also suggested that berries could reduce the likelihood of developing cancer.
Spices and aromatics like turmeric, ginger, garlic, and onions also reduce inflammation. Turmeric, in particular, is packed with curcumin, a compound that has been shown to alleviate pain from arthritis and reduce inflammation from diabetes.
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