Role of Nutrition in Covid-19

In this special post, our resident nutritionist, Jenna Hope gives her top tips for supporting immune function and managing inflammation in light of coronavirus.

At The Transformation Chef we use a wide range of different ingredients to provide you with a variety of nutrients and plant compounds which are essential for supporting your health. Check out our range of meals here.

Before we get into the crux of this article I want to highlight that I am by no means suggesting that a nutrient dense diet can prevent you catching coronavirus. The aim of this article is to highlight the associations which have been found in the research and some top tips for supporting your wellbeing as best as you can during this time. Please also be aware that as corona virus is evidently a new virus, this research is very much in its infancy and the findings may change over time. Below are my top tips in supporting your immune function and managing inflammation in light of coronavirus. 

  1. Vitamin D
    The relationship between Vitamin D and the immune system is a bi-directional one. It’s understood that the immune cells play an important role in converting 25-hydroxyvitamin D (aka the inactive form of Vitamin D) into 1-25-dihydroxyvitamin D (aka the active form of vitamin D). Although at the same time, Vitamin D plays a pivotal role in the management of T-cells. T-cells are a key component of the adaptive immune system which helps to stave off unwanted pathogens. What’s more is evidence suggests low levels of Vitamin D in the blood is associated with a poorer immune function. Vitamin D is often referred to as the sunshine vitamin since we synthesise it as a result of sun exposure on our skin. It’s incredibly difficult to obtain enough Vitamin D through the diet alone. Since we’re creeping into the winter months, with reduced sun exposure the government recommends supplementing with 10ųg.d.

  2. Supporting immune function
    Over the past few months more and more people have started to supplement with the likes of Vitamin C, Zinc, Magnesium etc. whilst these nutrients are essential components of a healthy immune system there isn’t always a need to supplement. In some cases, over supplementing can contribute to an impaired immune function. Adequate levels of vitamin C can be consumed through hitting your 5-a-day. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it is unable to be stored in the body. In practise this means that any additional vitamin C you consume through a supplement will be excreted if your body has enough already. With regards to magnesium and zinc, ensuring that you’re incorporating good quality protein, green leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds into your diet is essential for supporting a healthy immune system.

  3. Lifestyle management
    There has been some evidence to suggest that those with additional fat mass may be at a greater risk of worse outcomes of corona virus. This is very much in its infancy and often weight is multifactorial. It may be that diets rich in highly processed foods, artificial ingredients, additives, sugars, saturated fats etc. contribute to weight gain but also contribute to inflammation which may be the driving factor for worse health outcomes. There has been a significant number of scaremongering headlines in association to weight and corona virus outcomes. I suggest focussing on lifestyle management and diet quality in order to support your health rather than solely focussing on weight. Ensure you’re sleeping well, exercising regularly, consuming a nutrient rich diet and limiting stress and smoking where possible.

  4. Inflammation
    It has been said that high levels of inflammation are associated with worse corona virus outcomes. Therefore, opting for a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, herbs, spices and antioxidants can contribute to reducing inflammation. Limiting high sugar foods and saturated fat can also reduce inflammation too. Oily fish, fruits, vegetables, flaxseeds, almonds are all great examples of nutrient dense foods with anti-inflammatory properties.

  5. Gut health
    When it comes to talking about immunity, we can’t leave out gut health. 70% of our immune cells are located inside the gut. As a result, supporting adequate gut profile is essential to supporting a healthy immune system. Ensure you’re reaching you 5-day, try and hit 30g fibre per day and opt for variety where possible. At The Transformation Chef we use a wide range of different ingredients to provide you with a variety of nutrients and plant compounds which are essential for supporting your health. 

There you have some top tips for supporting your health as best as you can during this time. Remember though, avoid getting stressed. You can only do what you can do so focus on one of the above rather than trying to do everything all at once! 

Hewison, M. (2012). Vitamin D and immune function: an overview. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society71(1), 50-61.
Zabetakis, I., Lordan, R., Norton, C., & Tsoupras, A. (2020). COVID-19: The Inflammation Link and the Role of Nutrition in Potential Mitigation. Nutrients12(5), 1466.
Derbyshire, E., & Delange, J. (2020). COVID-19: is there a role for immunonutrition, particularly in the over 65s?. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.


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