Many individuals have reported cases of long-COVID, where they experience fatigue, body aches, anxiety, depression, and a number of other conditions weeks or months after initial COVID-19 infection.
While direct clinical trials of plant-based diets altering conditions of long-COVID are not yet available, pre-pandemic trials directly support the reduction and recovery of associated conditions.
As the article reports, higher fruit and vegetable consumption has been shown to be closely associated with emotional health and higher levels of optimism. In addition, polyphenols found in common plant foods, such as apples, cherries, and onions, have been found effective at preventing anxiety and depression. In particular, patients with COVID-19 have been found to have altered tryptophan levels, impacting the central nervous system and heightening anxiety. A common approach to reach ideal tryptophan levels is to incorporate high-quality plant proteins and unrefined carbohydrates into one’s diet. Many of the same plant-based foods that support mental health have additional anti-inflammatory components that can reduce muscle and joint pain, as well.
Overall, plant-based foods provide a variety of nutrients and compounds that have been clinically found to reduce conditions associated with long-COVID and could be an accessible strategy to help heal and regulate the body.
Citation: Storz M. A. (2021). Lifestyle Adjustments in Long-COVID Management: Potential Benefits of Plant-Based Diets. Current nutrition reports, 10(4), 352–363. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13668-021-00369-x
Laura Bustard is an actuary who is passionate about plants. She has conducted research on the emergency food system and prescription-produce, and recently worked for FairShare CSA Coalition in Madison, WI. She now lives in Goleta, CA, and works remotely for The Standard, holding a Masters of Science in Urban and Regional Planning and a Fellowship from the Society of Actuaries.
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