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How Good Eating Habits May Help You Fight COVID-19

Pile of fruits and vetegables on white background.
Parkland dietitian Rachel Trammell says a balanced diet including fruits and vegetables provides vitamins and nutrients that help support your immune system.

A well-balanced diet is considered essential for good health. The vitamins and nutrients can help minimize illness.

So can what we eat work against COVID-19?

Rachel Trammell, a registered dietitian with Parkland Health and Hospital System, told KERA's Sam Baker she believes the answer is yes.


Can Good Nutrition Help Against COVID?

Your nutrition status contributes to your immune system and how well it works. And it's an important strategy, helping us to maybe not necessarily stop us from getting COVID, but definitely impacting the severity.

Of course, we don't know for sure, because there haven't been studies about all of these things, but we do know that nutrition status does impact our body's ability to respond to infections, viruses and things like that.

How To Strengthen Your Immune System

Making sure that you're eating a balanced diet is number one. Proteins and starches and vegetables and fruits at all of your meals can contribute different vitamins, micronutrients. Getting them from your food is a really good idea.

Any Particular Vitamin That Stands Out?

The vitamins we've heard most about are things like vitamin D-3, vitamin C and zinc.

Vitamin D-3 is a very important vitamin in supporting our immune system. But it’s usually required to be converted into the active form by getting sunlight during the day and things like that.

You can also take a vitamin D-3 supplement, but we want to make sure we're having a dual approach: Foods that have vitamin D-3 like mushrooms and, if needed, take a supplement.

Rachel Trammell’s Bout With COVID-19

Yes, I got COVID in late December. I was pretty well nourished doing a lot of supplementation before. That's probably why I did not get more severe COVID. I'm struggling now with long COVID.

Everyone who has COVID has an inflammatory problem. If you have long COVID, approach your food with an anti-inflammatory mindset: Reducing things like added sugars, super starchy ultra-processed foods, sugary drinks and things like that will help your body calm down any inflammation that exists. And not contribute more inflammation to a problem that already exists.


How Nutrition can help to fight against COVID-19

Nutrition advice for adults during the COVID-19

Ask the Expert: The role of diet and nutritional supplements during COVID-19

Interview highlights were lightly edited for clarity.

Got a tip? Email Sam Baker at You can follow Sam on Twitter @srbkera.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.