Long Haulers Symptoms & Possible Solutions

January 14, 2023

If you or someone you know had Covid and now have lingering fatigue, brain fog, sleep problems, muscle aches, depression, anxiety, or poor memory problems, you may be experiencing Long Covid or Long Hauler symptoms. The number of people who report post-Covid symptoms varies from about 13 percent to 30 percent. Today we want to share information about many of the known symptoms and how nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help manage these health challenges.

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MELANIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. If you or a spouse or a friend had Covid and now are feeling fatigued, spacey or lightheaded, have sleep problems, muscle aches, depression, anxiety, poor memory problems, you may be experiencing long Covid or long hauler symptoms. The number of people who experience post Covid symptoms varies from 13 to 30%.

Today we want to share some information about many of the known symptoms and how nutrition and a healthy lifestyle can help. I'm Melanie Beasley. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. Many of my clients have some terrible lasting symptoms after having Covid; complaints of fatigue and muscle aches, trouble sleeping, digestive problems, putrid smells that they can't get away from, or no smell at all. Those are just a few of the symptoms that I've seen in clinic. Kelly, I don't know if you're seeing that as well.

KELLY: Absolutely. I'm seeing all of those symptoms.

MELANIE: All those symptoms. It's devastating. Well, no medicine has helped them, but eating real food, grass-fed meat, vegetables, natural fat, several times a day did overall help their symptoms and help those cells receive the nutrients that they needed to heal. And we believe the same is true for clients who have had long haul Covid, autoimmune problems, cancer survivors. But especially those that are experiencing long hauler symptoms, they're pretty desperate.

KELLY: Very desperate.

MELANIE: And you've heard her voice. Joining me today is Kelly McGraw, a Licensed Nutritionist who has experienced many of these symptoms after your cancer treatment I understand.

KELLY: Yes. Yeah. Very similar. It's great to be back in the studio with you, Mel. We did a show together recently, December 17th, 2022.


KELLY: …called Maintaining Your Strength During Cancer Treatment. And Mel and I both shared our cancer story, the type of cancer we had, what we ate during treatment, and our food choices now. So if you missed that live show, you can catch it on the Dishing Up Nutrition podcast. Again, that was December 17th. And the show is called Maintaining Your Strength During Cancer Treatment.

Common symptoms of Covid long-haul symptoms


MELANIE: Mm-Hmm. Well, many of the same nutrition principles that we shared, eating habits that helped in my cancer treatment, in that recovery, it also applies to Covid long hauler recovery. So we're going to take a look at some of the common health problems that long haulers experience. Think about how similar they are. Cancer is an immune disorder, and Covid also affects the immune system. So it's important to support the immune system. There are many different long hauler symptoms-so many. But some long haulers have neurological symptoms such as headaches, while others have respiratory symptoms like coughing or difficulty breathing. I had one client for two years, she had uncontrollable coughing.

KELLY: Wow. 

MELANIE: She wet her pants: such a struggle.

KELLY: Oh my gosh. That's horrible.

MELANIE: Another group of long haulers experienced fatigue, extreme fatigue, which affects their everyday life. It's difficult to go to work. It's difficult to cook. It's difficult to go to the gym and work out, just getting back to your normal life.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: You know, another group of long haulers, they might experience poor sleep, anxiety and brain fog. It's, it's a lot. It is a heavy burden to carry if you are a long hauler.

KELLY: It absolutely is. The fatigue that some long haulers tell me is a kind of fatigue they've never experienced before. And for me, it reminds me of how I felt when I went through chemotherapy and radiation. And I had a recent long hauler client say that after a full day, she could not get herself off the couch to even eat.

MELANIE: Oh my goodness.

KELLY: Right. And you and I both know how important it is to eat, but she was struggling to even do that. The fatigue was so intense she could not motivate herself to even take a shower. She could not think, read, watch TV, or even sit up straight.

MELANIE: Oh my word.

KELLY: She was absolutely wiped out.

MELANIE: Wow. What a devastation to feel like that and feel like are, am I going to get my life back?

KELLY: Exactly. It's scary.

MELANIE: It's so scary. You don't, because we don't know the outcome. We don't know the treatment. We don't know exactly what is, where do we go from here?

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: Sometimes vary greatly from client to client. A long hauler client who I have been working with had some fatigue, but her main concern was the anxiety and depression that hung on with her. And she was having trouble sleeping. She felt so anxious she couldn't even face going to work. Long Covid at its worst can steal almost everything you used to do in your life, such as exercising, relationships, hobbies, self-care, and work. This is some scary times for people.

KELLY: Absolutely. And from working with clients with long Covid, I think getting through recovery is almost the same as getting through cancer treatment like I had to do. I had to accept that I had cancer. And long haulers have to accept that the virus has changed their health and it's going to take work to recover. So it's okay to have some anger and frustration, but you can't dwell and live in those emotions. Right, Mel?


KELLY: So you have to pivot to acceptance, problem solving, and know that there's hope for you.

MELANIE: That, I think that's a big deal, is knowing that there's hope for you. It's a, it's like when you're diagnosed with cancer. You have to have that grieving period.


MELANIE: But in order to get better, it's like you said, you have to have a pivotal moment where you're like, okay, what am I going to do about this?

KELLY: Exactly. And it feels good to have some self-control and feel like you have control over your health.


KELLY: Right? And this is what we're doing. So currently there's no medication that really helps with long haul symptoms. And we know that gentle movement is beneficial, but really hard physical workouts are too stressful for the body. So what does help you recover from long Covid?

MELANIE: You know, and circling back to what you said about that, that workout is, I did have a client, and she would work out really hard because she'd be frustrated and then she'd be in the bed for a week. Because if you think about it, your body is already stressed and exercise, although good for us, is a form of stress.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: So that gentle movement, really great advice. Those are great things to think about. I think that working with a supportive nutritionist or dietitian helps because recovery takes small steps. And sometimes I find that clients don't realize that they have gotten better and they become frustrated and give up until someone points out (me), points out their progress that yes, you are making progress.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: Let's look back at when you came to me and I love to do that. Cause they're like, oh. And then it motivates them to take the next steps.

KELLY: That's right. And I love when clients actually forget a symptom they have and then you bring it up.


KELLY: And they realize they don't have it anymore, but they used to have that.

MELANIE: I think honestly, it's one of the best parts of our job. Don't you?

KELLY: Absolutely.

MELANIE: Well, let's share some nutrition principles that have helped. First, remember that you cannot completely outsmart a virus with a medication or a supplement. It also takes eating real food several times a day to get your immune system rebalanced and reduce inflammation and, and just listeners, inflammation's just this big umbrella term for something that's not right in my body. And your body is trying to fix it and get it back to where it was before.

KELLY: Right.

Sugar leads to inflammation


MELANIE: So we have to remember that Covid virus is a form of extreme inflammation. So ask yourself, what am I eating that can lead to more inflammation? If you thought sugar, you are correct. If you're one of our listeners, you knew that would be one.

KELLY: That's not a surprise. So the first rule of Covid recovery is to eliminate all sugars and products that turn into sugar. So if you're eating a bowl of breakfast cereal, eliminate it because it contains too much sugar for recovery. And again, we want to think about that hidden sugar we're eating. Perhaps it's in pancakes or cookies or granola bars, candy, soda, juice, or maybe even that favorite flavored coffee drink that you love. Sugar is the featured ingredient in most processed foods. And most of us have been conditioned by the big food industry to love their products. Right? Because of that sugar.

MELANIE: It’s very addicting. Right?

KELLY: Very addicting; and we see those commercials and advertisements. It's all over all of the time. And sugar tells our brain, I want more.

MELANIE: It does. So we'll talk more about sugar when we come back from break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. I'm Melanie Beasley. I'm a registered and licensed dietitian. I've got 30 years of experience with working in the field of nutrition with a variety of clients and many different organizations. I've worked in hospitals and clinics and nonprofit groups. Often, I was allowed about 15 minutes with a client.

Well, at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, our initial appointment is one and a half hours. I love that. I get to know my client, understand my client, enough time to listen to their concerns and develop a plan. Today our show will focus on symptoms and solutions many are having after experiencing Covid. Stay tuned and we'll discuss how eating real food can help. We'll be right back.


KELLY: Welcome back to Dishing Out Nutrition. I am Kelly McGraw. I am a licensed nutritionist with a master's degree in clinical nutrition and food science. And I am your cohost today. I have also worked in a variety of settings helping clients achieve their health goals. Having one and a half hour initial and one hour follow-up appointments with clients has increased my success rate with my clients because I have the time to really find out what they need and how to help them be successful. If you are struggling with long Covid, I encourage you to set up a series of appointments so together we can address your personal struggles. Call us at (651) 699-3438.

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So Mel, we were kind of just talking about the big food industry and how they inundate us with sugar all the time. And we're remembering that sugar tells our brain “I want more”.

MELANIE: Yeah, I love that you say that because I think a lot of clients don't realize that the food companies, they know how to get you hooked.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: It's, they're in it to make money. They're not in it for your health.

KELLY: Right. And so when we have a chronic illness, we need to use our intellect to say no to sugar, or those big food products that are high in sugar and processed carbs and are advertised over and over. We need to start thinking about how to say no to that.

MELANIE: I love that. I, I, it's, it's so tempting when you don't feel well to want to reach for that comfort food.

KELLY: Absolutely. Yes.

MELANIE: And it's, it's takes even double focus in order to say, I got to heal my body and it can't feed at the food that's creating more problems for me.


MELANIE: So it's so true. My husband and I were watching a football game and almost every break was for fast food or sugar treats.

KELLY: Right. I'm not surprised.

How to eat to create long-term energy


MELANIE: Yeah. Yeah. So I know when you're tired and you're so fatigued, that natural instinct is to grab sugar for that energy pick me up, especially the coffee with the sugar in it. It's just a form of self-soothing. But remember, your Covid symptoms are from inflammation and sugar creates, guess what; more inflammation. So we got to give your body a break. And how do you eat to give yourself long-term energy without that sugar and caffeine?

Well, the ups and the downs of blood sugar from eating too many processed carbs; think flour products, like you mentioned, the pancakes and the biscuits, and cookies, it creates a biochemical and hormonal inflammation and stress. It slows down the healing process, actually making you feel worse.

KELLY: Right. Exactly. It makes you feel instantly worse. So when recovering from cancer treatment, long Covid and autoimmune disease, or even obesity, the best approach is to eat real food. So grass-fed meat, lots of lots of vegetables, and beneficial fat four times a day. So each of these types of foods contain key nutrients that support each and every cell in your body and brain.

And so the main goal is to reduce that inflammatory response that we were just talking about and provide nutrients for healing. And that may, you may be saying to yourself right now, that sounds simple, but it isn't. And maybe your grandmother or great-grandmother ate that way. They cooked vegetables from their garden, often killed and butchered their own grass-fed beef, pork, and chicken. I mean, my grandmother grew up and lived on a farm her whole life. That's exactly how she ate. I remember as a young child going out in the garden picking fruits and vegetables with her. When they butchered a cow, all the family members got it. We put it in our freezer.

MELANIE: And if you were struggling with long Covid, you're thinking, I can't do that.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: Right. And so we'll give some tips on what to do when you are exhausted on the couch. But let's talk about what they used to cook with. There was no soybean oil. There was no corn oil, cottonseed oil. They used real butter. They used bacon grease, occasional olive oil to cook their meat and vegetables. They used the grass-fed lard that didn't have all the additives it does now.

KELLY: That's right.

MELANIE: Now, if you try to find lard, it's got some scary ingredients right now. They didn't use Teflon. They, you, those chemically treated pans. They usually used a well-seasoned cast iron skillet that that's what touched their stove. That's what touched their food. That's what I cook with today. It's my favorite.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: Heavy pan. But in 1965, the estimated rate of autoimmune disease was about 3%. But 30 years later, in 1995, the estimated rate was about five and a half percent. While today, get ready, the estimated rate for autoimmune disease is about 9%.

KELLY: Isn't that unbelievable?

MELANIE: Then what is going on?

KELLY: Right. And we see it with our clients. So we're not surprised, but it's still shocking to see that number.

MELANIE: It is. And I see sicker people than I have in 35 years of practice.


MELANIE: …right now. So did you know, listeners, that autoimmune disease occurs more often in women than in men? Many covert experts compare long hauler symptoms to the many symptoms people with an autoimmune disease experience. And this experience is similar because the body is caught in that never ending loop of fighting.

KELLY: Right. Exactly. And since there is not a proven medication to help with Covid long haul symptoms, the best solution to support your immune system is to eat real food, drink filtered water, stay away from sugar, alcohol, processed carbs. Especially those containing gluten. Gluten is especially inflammatory.


KELLY: Right?

MELANIE: Yes. Mm-hmm.

KELLY: So no bread, no bagels, no pizza, pancakes, pasta, cookies, candy. None of that. And here's the problem. It, it occurs when you are so tired or anxious, how do you get yourself into the kitchen to cook yourself some grass-fed meat or wild caught fish or plate of organic vegetables sautéed in delicious coconut oil or butter? We both eat this way. So let's share how we manage this challenge.

Examples of how to eat healthy when you’re low on energy


MELANIE: I think it's important. I love an instant pot. It's an appliance that I love because I can pull frozen meat from the freezer and cook it and have it done in 20 minutes.

KELLY: So easy.

MELANIE: Right. So that's something that I, I love. And if you can just do the simplest things that you can find that are easy, but again, no gluten, no sugar, lots of protein and veggies.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: And then we use quite a bit of butter and healthy fats throughout the day.

KELLY: Yeah.

MELANIE: Because that helps with that brain.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: And I never have gluten. I notice in my clients, especially anyone struggling with anxiety or depression, it creates more anxiety and depression because that gluten molecule can go across the brain barrier.

KELLY: Right. Exactly. We have to remember that. So what I like to do, I like every Sunday to do a little bit of batch cooking. I make a dozen hard boiled eggs. And then I think about making some protein for lunches. So maybe it's some chicken breast or ground turkey or salmon. I put them in the refrigerator. A lot of things I like to put in mason jars so I can easily see it. And they're ready to go and they can be eaten cold or hot. Right?


KELLY: I also to make, like to make up some homemade salad dressings for the week. So lately I've been using some delicious homemade salsa my Aunt Debbie made from her vegetables in the garden and I just add some sour cream; delicious. It's a, you can make a taco salad with that ground turkey I have. And I also like to cut out fresh vegetables like carrots, celery, cucumbers to have on hand.

MELANIE: That's great.

KELLY: But you know, for some of our clients that are struggling with fatigue, maybe it's easier to buy some organic frozen vegetables. Right? That's, that's okay. Or maybe buy some organic meat sticks or nitrate, nitrate free deli meat to have on hand for protein. That's okay too.

MELANIE: Easy. You know, one of the things I have clients that are really exhausted start with is just leave the crockpot on the counter.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: Pour in a carton of organic broth, dump in some chicken or some ground beef or ground sausage, whatever you like. And a bag of frozen vegetables.

KELLY: So easy.

MELANIE: Done. And while you're laying, sleeping, recovering, whatever you need, it's cooking for you. And then I have them always stash away a mason jar, like you said, of it in the freezer.

KELLY: For later.

MELANIE: Yes. It's easy to pull out and defrost in the microwave or in the refrigerator.

KELLY: Right. And I've had some clients that batch cook with a friend or relatives, so they each might make a couple entrees and then they swap and they have four meals for the week.

MELANIE: How fun is that?

KELLY: Or if you are fatigued, ask for some help. It's okay.

MELANIE: It is okay to ask for some help. And there are companies out there, of course, that are going to be more expensive, that will cook gluten and dairy free. They bring it in various states of cook, you know what you need. But that's…

KELLY: That’s a great option.

MELANIE: A lot of options out there.


MELANIE: But we'll talk some more about some ideas for long Covid haulers when we get back from our break. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Achieving your goals of good health, positive moods, sufficient energy, being free of aches and pains and maintaining strong bones all takes behaviors that get us where we want to be. How do you develop those behaviors?

Well, you could take the Nutrition for Weight Loss Foundation class or take a series of Ongoing Support sessions, or take one or maybe more cooking classes. Perhaps book several appointments with a nutritionist or all of the above if you feel like you need a lot of support. We are here to manage your long hauler symptoms. It is important to practice behaviors that get you to where you are meant to be. We'll be right back.

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KELLY: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Are you struggling with long Covid? Experts say that diet and nutrition could help. According to the director of the Mayo Clinic's Covid Activity Rehabilitation program over a one-third of long Covid report, having trouble with basic living skills such as getting dressed, showering, and eating. For those looking for ways to cope with long Covid symptoms, follow a balanced eating plan of real food, including protein from quality meat, fish, and a variety of vegetables. And also all those natural healing fats. A super diet will help you fight chronic diseases because all the vitamins and minerals work together for healing.

MELANIE: So when we went to break, we were talking about just some practical ways to get some decent real food in your belly when you don't feel like getting off the couch.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: And one of the simplest things is pick up a couple roasted chickens, put them in your refrigerator. You can eat on those for a couple days; some bags of vegetables from the freezer section that are microwaveable that you can pop them in the microwave.

KELLY: They still, and it still tastes delicious.


KELLY: You're having delicious food.

MELANIE: Mm-Hmm. Having delicious food. You've got some sticks of butter. Maybe you buy a bag of baby reds that you can also steam, whatever.

KELLY: Yeah.

Supplements that support healing from long-haul Covid


MELANIE: And then you, you've got a meal that you can eat. I think it's really, really important that we get real food first. But there are some supplements that support healing. I suggest taking two to three Bifido Balance before each meal to help digest or break breakdown that nourishing food that you're eating. And that's going to help you get those nutrition benefits of the real food. Bifido is one of the master strains of, of probiotics that live in our digestive system.

KELLY: Such a great probiotic. Right?

MELANIE: It's gentle too. Yeah. So starting with that to help you get the nutrients that we need is so important.

KELLY: Beef, chicken, turkey, eggs, pork, wild caught fish: all of that supports our healing. Sugar, flour and processed carbs interfere with healing. So that goes for alcohol, soda, juice drinks, and your favorite high sugar coffee drink, pizza. It may be time to change your nutrition to change your health and think of food as medicine.

MELANIE: That is really, really true. Those are some great ideas to start changing into a real food diet that will help you heal from long Covid. Kelly, I loved all of those suggestions.


MELANIE: You know, I had a client with long Covid and she was pretty well couch bound. She had to take a sabbatical from work. She could not work. She was a newlywed. She was just in a really bad place: depression, anxiety, exhaustion, headaches. Could not even walk to her mailbox.

KELLY: That's horrible.

MELANIE: So we started with her. We did a Zoom appointment and she was laying down during her Zoom appointment.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: And so we started with some, some key supplements and some basic ideas. And one of the things that I had her do was simply do a nourishing smoothie three times a day that had vegetables, it had healthy fat for her brain and it had some protein.

KELLY: Perfect.

MELANIE: A good quality grass-fed protein powder.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: That was the Paleo Protein.


MELANIE: And that at least started nourishing her. And then we removed comfort foods because she was eating so many of those comfort foods that you were talking about.

KELLY: That sound good when you don't feel well.

MELANIE: Everybody loves a pastry. Everybody loves a donut, but it was not doing a body good for her.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: So, and sometimes you have to say this is not forever to yourself. And so getting her to realize that let's just see what your body will do when we nourish it with real food. And the next time I talked to her, she said, I'm able to walk a half a mile.

KELLY: Amazing. 

MELANIE: And that was in four weeks.


MELANIE: So it, I was thrilled for her, her quality of life, her energy, her countenance, the glow in her eyes.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: …was back. And so it's it baby steps. It was baby steps.

KELLY: Baby steps. Exactly.

MELANIE: But you know, when we got her eating enough protein, she got to the place where she could make real protein that you were talking about; grass-fed meat, hamburger, anything that they could afford that was close to grass-fed or organic that she could.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: And then she, I placed her on that Bifido. And if you eat that piece of beef roast or steak or hamburger that you made in the crockpot with the Bifido, the Bifido helps you break down the proteins in the beef and turn it into key nutrients such as iron and selenium and riboflavin, niacin, B6, magnesium and potassium.

Plus, you know, the amino acids that she really needed to make the neurotransmitters. And those are the brain chemicals that help you feel calm and relaxed. And that's what she needed. Those brain chemicals helped her mood. So yes, you can take a high quality multivitamin, but we believe more healing occurs with real food than with a multivitamin. Remember, supplements are just that: they supplement a healthy diet. They don't replace a healthy diet.

KELLY: Right. We're always thinking about what we're eating first and supplements second. My husband just had Covid in December and he, like many people, was looking around for a piece of toast or some crackers, but I knew he needed protein and vegetables and those healthy fats.

MELANIE: He was so blessed to have you.

KELLY: And so, I was making homemade chicken soup with vegetables and chili and I'd put that in front of him and he would eat it. He would be satisfied. It tasted delicious. And I really think he healed faster because of that way of eating.

MELANIE: Of course.

KELLY: Right?

Tools to consider to help with Covid long haul symptoms


MELANIE: Of course he did. The next time I'm sick, I'm going to call Kelly and you bring it to me where I'm laying down. Let's go over some tools to consider. Listeners, if you or a loved one is struggling with long haul Covid symptoms, there's a few tools that can help you get started. One, adopt an anti-inflammatory diet, which is what we're talking about. You want to eat that real food. Consider an elimination diet if you think you have food sensitivities. And this may simply mean eliminate the gluten, the dairy, the sugar, the grains, possibly some others for a period of time. Eat good fats. Eat the protein and the animal protein. Lots of vegetables at each meal. And as organic and grass fed as you can afford.

KELLY: Right. Exactly. And you want to take care of your digestion. So we encourage working with one of our dietitians, your nutritionists, to optimize digestive health so you can absorb all of those nutrients from your diet to repair your cells.

MELANIE: So key.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: We don't want every good thing that you're eating to not be getting into your cells.

KELLY: Exactly.

How to manage stress from long Covid


MELANIE: You know, another one is stress level. Stress actually slows blood vessel growth. And since Covid and long Covid can be very, very stressful, consider, you know something that supports your adrenal, such as just liposomal vitamin C. We have it on our website.

KELLY: Right? Mm-Hmm.

MELANIE: Methylated B vitamins.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: We have those on our website.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: This is going to help you cope with that stress.

KELLY: Right. And we want to incorporate gentle movement and exercise. So with long Covid, you might have to start really slow, but exercise helps to grow blood vessels and detoxify our bodies and reduce stress. But remember it's that gentle movement. We're not talking about hardcore workouts.

MELANIE: And I think you just feel better when you're able to move around a little bit. You start just a little feeling like a normal person.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: It may be simply taking that shower.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: Mm-hmm. You want to prioritize sleep. Sleep is required for the body to repair. This is when we repair. It improves our immunity. If you're having trouble sleeping, consider incorporating a real gentle sleep aid such as melatonin. We sell melatonin on our website, weightandwellness.com. And as a bonus, melatonin is an anti-inflammatory and being used by some medical practitioners for Covid patients.

KELLY: Right. And most people don't know it's an anti-inflammatory. Right?


KELLY: So that's another great tip. Breathe. Breathing exercises help to strengthen the lungs and oxygenate the body as well as reduce stress and promote healing.

MELANIE: And when we're laying all day, we really don't get the depth of breath that we're supposed to get for our lungs to oxygenate the body. So really important that movement again, helps us breathe a little deeper.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: Well, it's time for a break. We'll talk about some more tips when we get back. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. In addition to having adequate vitamins and minerals, I encourage my clients to stay hydrated. Drink 10 to 12 glasses of filtered water daily. Eat that protein, vegetables, and good fats four times a day for energy and healing. And then stay away from the inflammatory foods we're talking about: sugar, processed foods, factory foods, artificial sweeteners, pizza, cereal and bread. Sugar is inflammatory. And flour, especially wheat flour, gluten containing flour is very inflammatory. And these are simple behaviors that will help you recover from long Covid so much faster. We'll be right back.


KELLY: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. To develop behaviors of healing takes education, support, and a commitment to change. As dietitians, nutritionists, and nutrition educators, we are ready to help. Call us at (651) 699-3438 and let's figure out your healing journey. You will be surprised at how powerful and healing real food can be.

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MELANIE: That is so true. And we, there's so many available, so many available menus. And we have “What a Nutritionist Eats in a Day” on our website.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: We have recipes on our website.

KELLY: So many great recipes.

MELANIE: If you like this podcast, you can find all of our podcasts on our website. So weightandwellness.com is this great resource for a ton of information. When we went to break, we were talking about some tips for long hauler symptoms and one of the things that you were talking about was breathing.

Reduce toxin exposures


I want to talk a little bit about reducing toxin exposures. It's not really something we think about, but daily exposure to environmental toxins in your home or on your body are a source of inflammation. And it's often overlooked. It's a burden on the body. And remember, your body is fighting an inflammatory process with long Covid. So we want to lessen the burden on that body.

KELLY: Really important.

MELANIE: Simple strategies include drinking the water that Kelly mentioned, filtering, you know, the air if it's toxic, making sure that what you're using to clean or your personal products are clean and don't have parabens and don't have harsh chemicals that you're breathing in.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: So it's something to think about and you can do it slowly. One product at a time you replace.

Helpful supplements to reduce inflammation


KELLY: Exactly. We also can incorporate supplements to reduce inflammation in the body. So curcumin: a powerful antioxidant and NAC to help glutathione, one of our master antioxidants we create in our bodies; very powerful.

MELANIE: I love that. I love NAC is N-Acetyl-Cysteine and it really helps the liver to produce that master antioxidant, glutathione.

KELLY: Right. Yep.

MELANIE: …to help fight for you.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: And then always, always, always make sure that your vitamin D level is in a healthy range. We like to see it above 50 for long haulers to keep them in optimal health. But we love to talk about the nutrition and the food. So Kelly, I would love to hear, what would a day look like for you when you were going through chemo and you had difficulty getting off the couch?

More examples of how to eat healthy when you’re low on energy


KELLY: Right. I did rely on friends to bring me some food and I had great friends who actually asked what I wanted and sounded good. Right. And so I would always have a soup on hand, maybe chicken with some vegetables, maybe a chili with grass fed meat. That really helped me get through a day. But you know, I was always thinking about what protein I could eat that sounded good because sometimes, and just like Covid as I'm sure you've had clients or foods, certain foods don't sound good to them, right?

MELANIE: Yes. Especially those clients that have the putrid smell right in their nose or food smells spoiled to them, almost like it's a mouse decomposing in their garage. So we had her do some essential oils under her nose.

KELLY: Oh, that's a great tip.

MELANIE: So she, so she would smell that while she was eating. We had her eating food that was at room temperature or cold. Because you have less ability to smell food when it's at that temperature.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: We talked about that on our cancer podcast

KELLY: We did talk about that.

MELANIE: What about smoothies? Did you make smoothies for yourself?

KELLY: I wouldn't, I couldn't make smoothies during chemo because we talked about, I had that cold sensitivity, but that worked well during radiation. So I would make batches of smoothies up with protein powder. A lot of times I would do spinach because that sounded good to me during treatment. That was just something that was easy I could grab all the time. And then I would kind of vary between berries.

MELANIE: That's great.

KELLY: Yeah.

MELANIE: I, we've got some really great creative people that work for Nutritional Weight and Wellness.

KELLY: We do.

MELANIE: And they have come up with warm smoothies that are on our website, some recipes. Because in Minnesota nobody wants a cold smoothie right now.

KELLY: No, exactly.

MELANIE: But we've got some warm ones that's taste like chicken soup. We've got one that's, I believe is like a pumpkin latte, but it's nourishing.

KELLY: Everyone loves the pumpkin latte one.

MELANIE: So it's nourishing and it, it's providing the protein and some healthy fat, some antioxidant power.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: And it tastes like a treat without causing damage.

KELLY: Exactly. I also like pureed soups with vegetables I make with bone broth. We have a great recipe on our website for bone broth, but if you don't have time or the energy for that, you can buy bone broth and make, put it into your soups.

MELANIE: That’s a great idea.

KELLY: Add a little bit of cream for my healthy fat, maybe some olive oil and cook it low and you can freeze that as well. So that's another idea. And then I would pair it with the protein that sounded good to me that day. And that would kind of change by the day.

MELANIE: Yes. I love that. I know when I was so sick, I ended up basically a lot of roasted chickens.

KELLY: Right. Yeah.

MELANIE: That was an option.

KELLY: Me too.

MELANIE: And like I said, I left that crockpot on the counter, and it might be as simple as a frozen couple pounds of burger in there.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: …walked by every time I had to use the restroom and kind of broke it up, had it on high, kind of broke it up. Once it was cooked, I dumped in frozen bags of peppers, onions. And then a jar of organic spaghetti sauce.

KELLY: Right. And it's so easy. 

MELANIE: It's done.

KELLY: And almost anyone can do that, even with some sort of fatigue.


Developing a healing trajectory mindset


KELLY: Right. So, and it, it, it's a mindset of I matter enough to make this little bit of effort. You have to have a mindset that I'm on a healing trajectory. This isn't forever. And if I nourish my body, it can fight for me. And that is what we try to tell our clients is to put themselves first for a while. And use that energy to heal. And when you are in that, that dark sick place, someone has to be the voice of reason that you matter.

KELLY: Right.

MELANIE: And you have to take the time and a little bit of effort it takes to nourish yourself as if you do matter. And that's what we're here for.

KELLY: Exactly. And just to have that hope that you will get better and that this will be the, a way to help you feel better.

MELANIE: If you get a mile high above it and you think about it, the body is designed to heal itself if you give it the tools that it requires to heal. But if you never give it the tools, you only give it terrible things like the, the, the flour products, the sugar products, the processed food that's nutritionally void, you're not giving your body the tools to heal.

KELLY: Exactly.

MELANIE: You can't do anything with that. In fact, it's a burden on an already sick body.

KELLY: Right. And one of the scary things about long Covid is we don't know who is going to get it. Right?

MELANIE: Good point.

KELLY: I looked up a study and I found that three out of every 10 long haulers are under the age of 35. 

MELANIE: Oh my goodness.

KELLY: Isn't that surprising?

MELANIE: Three out of 10?

KELLY: Three out of 10 under the age of 35. And just an example of that, my daughter's boyfriend who's about to turn 24, got Covid and had that lingering cough and he was susceptible to other viruses. And this is someone that is 23, he was a college athlete, he works out in great shape and he knows the value of protein, but still had those lingering effects.

And so at that point we really had to think about adding those healthy fats into his diet, those vegetables and maybe some supplements. You know, a big one that I have found with my client's, Mel, is historically they've had low vitamin D levels. So I'm always thinking about vitamin D as well for my clients. Do you see that in your long haulers?

MELANIE: Yes. And that's the first thing. You know, and I know there's studies out there and Covid is still out there, that if your vitamin D is low, it is, I think it's like 60%, don't quote me on that, but higher instance of going directly to the lungs and causing devastating effects.

KELLY: Right. So vitamin D really important, especially for our listeners in Minnesota and the Midwest. We want to always make sure vitamin D is something we're taking.

MELANIE: Yes. And I had, I've had a lot of clients that we've worked on getting that vitamin D up and they just feel better.

KELLY: Right. Exactly. Yeah.

MELANIE: So hopefully listeners, we've given you a lot of tips if you are struggling or you have a loved one who's struggling with long haulers. But our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple yet powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thanks for joining Kelly and I today.

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