Long Covid: Certain foods ‘exacerbate’ symptoms, says expert

What is long Covid and what are the known symptoms?

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Most people fully recover from the initial infection of Covid within a few weeks. But for some the symptoms will persist beyond 12 weeks and this is what is known as long Covid. According to the Office for National Statistics, around two million people in the UK are living with long Covid, which is also called post-Covid syndrome.

Registered nutritional therapist and owner of Goodness Me Nutrition, Anna Mapson, explained how there could be a link between long Covid and histamine – a chemical released in the body when it’s defending against potential allergens.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, she said: “There is a growing number of people with long Covid, and their symptoms present in some ways similarly to patients with histamine intolerance.

“Some people with long Covid feel better when they take antihistamines, although please speak to your doctor before trying any new medication.

“Some early research is looking into how histamine affects the immune system and whether it may influence symptoms people are experiencing with long Covid.”

Therefore, she suggested swapping to a low-histamine diet to help manage symptoms.

“Not everyone needs to avoid foods that induce or contain histamine, but if you are sensitive, you may find it useful to trial a low histamine diet to see how you feel,” she said.

“If you eat a lot of foods high in histamine and experience issues with ongoing inflammation you may benefit from a break from these foods.

“Histamine in food increases over time and may exacerbate symptoms.”

Popular foods containing histamine include aged cheeses and smoked fish and meat.

It is also found in:

  • Yoghurt
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Processed meats
  • Fermented foods like kefir or sauerkraut.

Ms Mapson added: “Tinned foods and ready meals may also affect people with a sensitivity to histamine.

“And it is found in artificial colours such as tartrazine, and preservatives such as benzoates and sulphites.”

Histamine regulates our immune response, and it is released when we encounter allergens, cytokines, stress hormones, alcohol, and hormones.

You can have problems with too much histamine because you can’t get rid of it an impaired ability to degrade it, or if your body is creating too much.

Ms Mapson advised the best ways to support recovery from long Covid.

“We have more questions than answers at the moment for this virus, so it can be difficult to know how to support your body,” she said.

“Fatigue, brain fog, joint pain, skin conditions and headaches may be related to inflammation in the body.

“To best support recovery from infection we need to reduce other excessive demands on our body.”

She added: “Anyone recovering from an illness can support their immune system with plenty of rest, fresh foods, and healthy proteins.”

She recommended:

  • Eating fresh foods, prepared on the day if possible
  • Consuming fruits rich in vitamin C
  • Eating foods containing quercetin – red apples, grapes, onions, and berries
  • Eating a varied diet rich in fibre, protein and vegetables
  • Resolving any issues with digestion so you get the most out of your diet.

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