A Pilot Study to Examine If Dietary Habits Can Affect Symptomology in Mild Pre-Vaccination COVID-19 Cases

Biology (Basel). 2022 Aug 27;11(9):1274. doi: 10.3390/biology11091274.


The heterogeneity of the severity of symptoms of COVID-19 experienced by the young and healthy individuals is poorly understood. The present study was undertaken to mainly examine whether the respective diets and the type of symptoms experienced by patients are predictive of having long COVID-19. Disease severity was assessed with a symptomatology questionnaire and used to group 55 participants in asymptomatic (AS), mild symptoms (S) and long COVID (LC). We found that experiencing a higher number of symptoms as well as fatigue were predictors of developing LC whereas those who experienced rhinorrhea were less likely to develop LC. Blood samples were also taken to measure vitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations and duration of spike IgG antibodies. In this study, serum 25(OH)D was not significantly different between 3 symptom groups with median (IQR) ng/mL levels of 22.0 (12.3) in the AS, 22.3 (7.5) in S, and 24.9 (9.4) in the LC group (p ≥ 0.05). The duration of IgG antibody response was found to vary greatly, with some individuals showing raised IgG over a year after infection. To examine whether dietary factors can influence the severity of symptoms, diet was analysed using 4-7-day food diaries as well as a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ). Some nutrients such as vitamin E, polyunsaturated fatty acids, fibre, and iron were associated with lower severity of COVID-19. Lower intake of vitamin E was associated with having LC with a median (IQR) intake of 6.2 mg (3.8) seen in LC vs. 8.6 mg (7.2) in the AS group (p = 0.047). This pilot study has highlighted a few differences in the number and type of symptoms experienced by the young non-hospitalised individuals with mild and long COVID-19 and identified a few dietary components for their potential protective role against long COVID-19, however, the findings need to be confirmed with further large scale studies.

Keywords: COVID-19; IgG; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; diet; food frequency questionnaire; long-COVID; symptoms.

Grant support

This research was partly funded by the University of Portsmouth, UK and partly by Euroinnova Fundación, Spain. Euroinnova Funded the mobile app which tracked COVID-19 positive and negative individuals. Euroinnova Fundación also paid for the blood sample collection, antibody, and 25(OH)D measurement assays.