COVID-19 – The Aftermath
COVID-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2 or 2019-nCoV). Although the first suspected case of this virus was reported in Wuhan, China in December 2019, the virus continues to infect people around the globe. Many who have previously recovered from the virus are now challenged with lingering symptoms that are referred to as, “Long Hauler’s COVID-19, Post-Acute COVID-19 or COVID-19 Syndrome. In fact, these symptoms have been seen in individuals regardless of health status, whether hospitalized requiring intensive care treatment during the acute phase, those not hospitalized during the acute phase but later presented with organ damage, and those not requiring hospitalization, having mild symptoms while fighting the virus, even those vaccinated (1). Interestingly, this issue is more common in women.
Lingering Health Effects of COVID-19
Much is still unknown of the effects of COVID-19, but research continues to evolve. According to the Mayo Clinic (October 2021), most people who have gotten the virus recover completely within two weeks. However, this is not always the case, and many continue to experience symptoms, some beyond twelve (12) weeks post infection. The term, COVID-19 Syndrome is not well-fined and there is not consensus of what is causing these lingering health effects. A heightened immune response or re-infection of the virus may cause lingering inflammation and deconditioning due to inactivity. Some people have symptoms that could be related to a variety of issues including fatigue, shortness of breath, joint and muscle pain, cough, brain fog, insomnia or difficulty concentrating, loss of taste or smell, changes in mood and worsening of symptoms after activity. Others have experienced more severe health effects including severe multi-organ inflammation or permanent damage to organs including the lungs, brain, kidney and heart. So how do you know if your symptoms are related to recovering from the virus or something more severe?
Post COVID-19 Organ Damage – A Focus on the Heart
COVID-19 can cause damage to the heart including the muscle, blood vessels and overall function. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (November 2021), several underlying health issues can affect how the virus affects the heart. These include obesity, cardiomyopathy, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease and stroke. (2) The heart is also one of the major organs that has a specific receptor, ACE2, that allows the virus to enter its cells. Dr. Wendy Post, professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine suggests that “coronavirus infection also affects the inner surfaces of veins and arteries, which can cause blood vessel inflammation, damage to very small vessels and blood clots, all of which can compromise blood flow to the heart or other parts of the body”. It is typical for the immune system to increase inflammation when fighting off any viral infection. However, in some people the inflammation seen with COVID-19 seems to get carried away, leading to further heart damage disrupting electrical signals that help it beat properly. (3). Research continues to evaluate the potential long-term effects of those affected with new and existing cardiovascular issues post COVID-19.
Diet and Herbal Nutritional Supplement Approaches to Support Heart and Blood Vessel Health
Inflammation is the underlying problem that leads to most of the health problems from COVID-19. Our cells have internal antioxidants that work to combat compounds called free radicals that lead to inflammation and tissue damage. Unfortunately, research has demonstrated that these antioxidants are depleted during the SARS-COV2 infection (4) Therefore, it would seem reasonable that nutrition approaches that are anti-inflammatory, rich in antioxidants and focus on supporting blood vessels that deliver nutrients to the heart is a prudent approach post COVID-19.
Key Nutrients to Include in Your Diet
1.Foods High in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Eating oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, halibut and tuna has been found to improve the elasticity of the blood vessels may also speed up the repair process of damaged blood vessels.
2. Foods Rich in Antioxidants
Consuming fruits and vegetables both in variety and rich in color contain plant nutrients called “phytochemicals”. These specific plant chemicals such as carotenoids or polyphenols are exploding with antioxidants which combat free radicals decreasing inflammation and blood pressure. Using heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts and seeds and avocado help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. Flavonoids in dark chocolate promote endothelial health and reduce vessel stiffness. (5)
3. Foods Increasing Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide relaxes muscles in blood vessel walls, which makes it easier for blood to flow lowering blood pressure. This compound also helps prevent blood clots and protects vessel walls by keeping them strong and flexible. Consuming foods that the body uses to make nitric oxide such as watermelon, lean meats, fish, vegetables, garlic and whole grains and those that contain nitric oxide such as beets and green leafy vegetables will support blood vessel health.
4. Include NatureKue CardioSupport Herbal Supplement
The unique proprietary blend of Danshen, Tienchi Ginseng and Astragalus offer a strong combination of antioxidants that combat inflammation, fatigue and support blood vessel health for improved blood flow and overall cardiovascular function.
- Al-Jahdhami, I., Al-Naamani, K., & Al-Mawali, A. (2021). The Post-acute COVID-19 Syndrome (Long COVID). Oman medical journal, 36(1), e220. https://doi.org/10.5001/omj.2021.91
- Yan Xie, Evan Xu, Benjamin Bowe, Ziyad Al-Aly. Long-term cardiovascular outcomes of COVID-19. Nature Medicine, 2022; DOI: 10.1038/s41591-022-01689-3
- Kurz DJ, Ebrli FR. Cardiovascular aspects of COVID-19. Swiss Med Wkly. 2020 Dec 31; 150:w20417.doi: 10.4414/smw.2020.20417.PMID: 33382450
- DE Flora S, Balansky R, LA Maestra S. Antioxidants and COVID-19. J Prev Med Hyg. 2021 Jun 5;62(1 Suppl 3):E34-E45. Italian. doi: 10.15167/2421-4248/jpmh2021.62.1S3.1895. PMID: 34622082; PMCID: PMC8452284.
- West SG, McIntyre MD, Piotrowski MJ, Poupin N, Miller DL, Preston AG, Wagner P, Groves LF, Skulas-Ray AC. Effects of dark chocolate and cocoa consumption on endothelial function and arterial stiffness in overweight adults. Br J Nutr. 2014 Feb;111(4):653-61. doi: 10.1017/S0007114513002912. Epub 2013 Nov 25. PMID: 24274771.