HEALTHY eating is key to recovery. Picture: Unsplash Josh Millgate
HEALTHY eating is key to recovery. Picture: Unsplash Josh Millgate

4 immune boosting nutrition tips for diabetes and obesity when recovering from Covid-19

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Aug 24, 2021

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If there was ever a time that made us pay attention to our health, it has been during the pandemic.

While the virus has been brutal to most people, diabetic and obese people have proven to be a part of the vulnerable group, whose immune system is easily compromised, making them vulnerable to contracting Covid-19

Registered dietician Omy Naidoo says that the impact of Covid-19 is greater for people who are diabetic and obese.

“People who have diabetes and are obese, are more likely to have serious complications from Covid-19. In general, people with diabetes are more likely to have more severe symptoms and complications, when infected with any virus. On the other hand, obesity has emerged as a strong and independent risk factor for severe infection and death due to Covid-19,” says Naidoo.

According to the World Health Organization, obesity significantly increases the chances of severe outcomes for Covid-19 patients. Likewise, extra healthy nutritional measures need to be taken for people with diabetes.

Healthy diets play an important role in our overall health and immune systems. The food we put into our bodies directly affects the way that we feel and the way our bodies function. This is as true during an illness, as it is before or after.

“Those recovering from the coronavirus should eat a variety of fresh and unprocessed foods every day, to get the vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, protein and antioxidants that their body needs. They should also drink enough water, avoid sugar, fat and salt, to significantly lower their risk of diabetes and obesity,” adds Naidoo.

Eating a healthy, balanced diet, with a variety of different foods, will ensure you get all the essential nutrients and energy you need through the day. Also, if someone has been exposed to or contracted the virus, healthy nutrition is essential for recovery in boosting their immune system.

Four immune-boosting nutrition tips for diabetics and obese people recovering from Covid-19:


Protein is an important nutrient for cell growth and regeneration. It is the building block of life and is required by our body for faster recovery. When suffering from Covid-19, it is recommended to eat a high protein diet.

Taking 75-100g of protein is essential every day. Add more foods like lentils, legumes, milk and milk products, soy, nuts, seeds, meat, chicken, fish, and eggs.

Vitamins and mineral

Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with immune boosters, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. These can be an excellent addition to your diet for faster recovery and strengthening your immune system.

Aim for five portions of fruits and vegetables in a day.

Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, which helps in the formation of antibodies and fights infection, while green and root vegetables help to strengthen the immune system.

Also, spend some time outdoors to get sufficient amounts of vitamin D.

Less sugar and salt

When cooking and preparing food, limit the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (like soy sauce and fish sauce).

Limit your daily salt intake to less than 5g (about one teaspoon), and use iodised salt.

Avoid foods (like snacks) that are high in salt and sugar.

Limit your intake of soft drinks or sodas, and other drinks that are high in sugar (like fruit juices, fruit juice concentrates and syrups, flavoured milk and yoghurt drinks). Choose fresh fruits, instead of sweet snacks like cookies, cakes and chocolate.


Water is an essential element for life, as it carries nutrients in the blood, regulates body temperature, and flushes out toxins from the body. Besides, an infection can dehydrate the body.

Try to drink at least two to three litres of water every day. You can also consume herbal concoctions, coconut water, milk, and fresh juice.

Avoid packed juice, caffeine, and fizzy drinks.

Navigating the pandemic is hard and demanding at the same time. Amid these difficulties and changes, it is all the more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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