The impact of nutrition on COVID-19 susceptibility and long-term consequences

Brain Behav Immun. 2020 Jul;87:53-54. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2020.04.040. Epub 2020 Apr 18.


While all groups are affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the elderly, underrepresented minorities, and those with underlying medical conditions are at the greatest risk. The high rate of consumption of diets high in saturated fats, sugars, and refined carbohydrates (collectively called Western diet, WD) worldwide, contribute to the prevalence of obesity and type 2 diabetes, and could place these populations at an increased risk for severe COVID-19 pathology and mortality. WD consumption activates the innate immune system and impairs adaptive immunity, leading to chronic inflammation and impaired host defense against viruses. Furthermore, peripheral inflammation caused by COVID-19 may have long-term consequences in those that recover, leading to chronic medical conditions such as dementia and neurodegenerative disease, likely through neuroinflammatory mechanisms that can be compounded by an unhealthy diet. Thus, now more than ever, wider access to healthy foods should be a top priority and individuals should be mindful of healthy eating habits to reduce susceptibility to and long-term complications from COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Dementia / epidemiology
  • Dementia / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / immunology
  • Diet
  • Diet, Western / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology
  • Inflammation / epidemiology*
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / epidemiology
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / immunology
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / immunology
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2