what is an anti-inflammatory diet (esp. for long covid)?
May 1, 2024 9:35 PM   Subscribe

I have long Covid and my doctor told me to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. What specific foods should I eat or avoid? What are some recipes for anti-inflammatory meals? Any chance that there's a meal delivery service that fits the bill?

TBH, a meal delivery service would be ideal since I don't have a lot of time to cook or shop.

YANMD. I was already referred to a "plant-based eating" class but the first one is 3 weeks from now so I thought I'd get some info in the meantime. I'm OK with being vegetarian but I need a lot of protein in my diet.

In case it helps, long Covid symptoms include: fatigue, brain fog, post-exertional malaise, heart palpitations, some unpredictable gastrointestinal distress. I've already been recommended various anti-inflammatory or antihistamine medication options from the doctor as well.

I have pretty bad PMDD + some chronic pain + food and pet allergies, so my body could clearly benefit from keeping the inflammation down overall!
posted by nixtamalization to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
MealPro's medical-meal delivery includes a "clinically researched anti-inflammatory diet" option developed in conjunction with the Idaho State University Department of Nutrition and Dietetics.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:01 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Depends where you are?

I was surprised to find a 'paleo' fresh-cooked meal delivery service where I am (dropped off twice a week), which was the only gluten-free option there was for me (I'm celiac).
No processed sugars, no soy, no grains, no processed ingredients, basically 3 veg + meat + sauce made from whole ingredients.

Paleo happens to be pretty close to an anti-inflammatory diet, was very low spoons during several health conditions, and because it appeared to be targeted at body builders, had the option of very large, very high protein meals which were perfect for me.

Is there something like that where you are?
posted by Elysum at 1:52 AM on May 2


Sorry, forgot to say, you could switch out which vegetables there were, which appears to be a common feature of the prepped-meal options, so if say, cabbage is a problem gastrointestinally, you could cross it out and they'd substitute one of their other options.

So yeah, look for what the 'clean-eating body builders' are ordering in your area, turns out to be great for, no thinking or planning required, high protein options for brain-foggy chronic health condition people.


(Sorry, I didn't suggest a plant based option - I actually grew up vegetarian, and didn't start buying and cooking meat till my mid 20s and... Well, I do better on it, but then I'm adding meat to a healthy, whole plant diet, so if someone was switching from junk to all plant based, that would probably be better, but I do better brain and health wise with reeeaallly high protein, low sugar and low grain diets).
posted by Elysum at 2:05 AM on May 2


They likely specifically mean AIP, though they may not mean for you to be terribly hardcore about the elimination phase and just follow a maintenance-like way of eating.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:57 AM on May 2 [2 favorites]


There are, by the way, tons of cookbooks and video media on AIP. And I feel like I have seen some kind of "anti-inflammatory" tickbox on Factor when we were ordering meals from them, but you can generally pick low carb, keto, or paleo meals and land within the parameters.
posted by Lyn Never at 6:01 AM on May 2


Yeah I was wondering if they meant AIP as well. I did the protocol after developing a heart issue post-Covid and have made dietary changes since that I believe helped.

If they didn’t mean that and mean more the pop version, a generic anti-inflammatory diet basically avoids alcohol, red meat, refined grains (pasta, white bread, commercial whole wheat) and processed foods, especially ultra-processed foods. For me this means largely eliminating things like commercially produced salad dressings, sauces, etc. It sounds overwhelming and can be but can also be as simple as using a rice cooker for whole grains and having those, frozen fish (the just fish kind) and a frozen veggie mix (I like the Green Giant anti-ox one), with olive oil and herbs where you like.

We don’t eat a ton of meat or poultry but my mum got me this book and it seems pretty decent esp once you know your triggers.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:23 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Oh also - you asked about recipes. These are all for the pop culture version of the diet.

My biggest arsenal is pretty much bowls and a rice cooker - I cook whole grains in the rice cooker (barley, steel cut oats, red rice/brown rice, the multi-grain mixes you can get), and then top with any combo of beans like black beans or chick peas, chopped veggies (if chopping is too much you can look in your store for like the stir-fry mixes, pre-shredded kale or cabbage, julienned carrots, etc plus some frozen veg are great - peas, edamame if you’re eating it, corn ditto) and pickled beets, turnips, other pickles, olives. Top with tahini or hot sauce (I do make an exception for this) or fresh salsa or soy sauce.

But a lot of other easy meals will qualify - for example, a piece of frozen fish cooked with a bit of olive oil and dill, plus a frozen vegetable mix, plus a microwaved sweet potato. If you can poach a few boneless chicken breasts on a good day, you can slice them and have them with a bagged salad (use your own balsamic vinegar+ olive oil dressing, or just go for a high quality ingredient one) or toss in with stir-fried vegetables at the last minute. A bagged kale or rainbow salad + can of tuna (only eat once a week) + a really high quality whole grain bread (like rye) is a pretty low-key lunch.

If you have energy to hit up a salad bar, you can use that for ingredients for all kinds of things.
posted by warriorqueen at 6:49 AM on May 2 [1 favorite]


You can also search for "autoimmune" and "low fodmap" for similar topics/diets.
posted by jpeacock at 9:19 AM on May 2


I am very curious about this question, and the algorithm brought me this video about spices. It is science-based, no doctor Oz, but it is not about AIP.
posted by mumimor at 9:25 AM on May 2


Can you ask the doctor what they meant and ask them to give examples or resources?

I can't speak for all "anti inflammatory" diets, but like most things in the diet:health nexus there is a TON of unproven (and unprovable!) woo out there.
posted by lalochezia at 6:34 PM on May 2 [3 favorites]


There is some evidence that intermittent fasting may help with long Covid symptoms (for example this paper from 2022) - quoting from that paper regarding a possible mechanism at play:
"fasting reduces inflammation, especially since hyperinflammation is associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes. In addition, after 12 to 14 hours of fasting, the body switches from using glucose in the blood to ketones, including linoleic acid... there's a pocket on the surface of SARS-CoV-2 that linoleic acid fits into -- and can make the virus less able to attach to other cells...Another potential benefit is that intermittent fasting promotes autophagy, which is "the body's recycling system that helps your body destroy and recycle damaged and infected cells"

I mention this not only because it may work for you - but also for the practical reason that fasting means fewer meals to shop for or prepare; useful if your time is limited. Speaking from my own perspective, I have found that restricting myself to an 8 hour eating window - essentially just not eating breakfast - has somehow helped me crave food less and hence cut out sweet snacks entirely. That, in turn is supposed to help with things like insulin resistance -and less refined carbs (from whatever diet) is then also correlated with reduced inflammation.

You might find this video which talks about causes of inflammation and how to reduce them, interesting - basically the argument here is that you should be working on any potential issues with your gut microbiome, with chronic stress or with consumption of sugars or starches.
posted by rongorongo at 10:26 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Paleo On the Go offers an "AIP compliant" meal delivery plan.
posted by unknowncommand at 7:03 AM on May 4 [1 favorite]


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