COVID-19: The Inflammation Link and the Role of Nutrition in Potential Mitigation.

Nutrients. 2020;12(5)
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By May 2020, the novel coronoavirus COVID-19 had infected over 4 million people worldwide. Spread through droplet, it gains entry to body cells through ACE2 cell receptors, causing viral infection-related inflammation, and predominantly infects the lower respiratory tract. Those with non-communicable diseases with COVID-19 experience increased inflammation and have a higher risk of adverse outcomes and mortality. This review article gives details of the mechanisms involved in a cytokine storm (an uncontrolled inflammatory response) and current treatment options, before discussing the immune-balancing and anti-inflammatory potential of healthy nutrition in reducing susceptibility to developing infections. Nutrition Practitioners looking to support the immunity and inflammation of their clients will find the summary research presented in relation to dietary strategies, different food groups and nutrients a useful basis for further study.


The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has engulfed the world, affecting more than 180 countries. As a result, there has been considerable economic distress globally and a significant loss of life. Sadly, the vulnerable and immunocompromised in our societies seem to be more susceptible to severe COVID-19 complications. Global public health bodies and governments have ignited strategies and issued advisories on various handwashing and hygiene guidelines, social distancing strategies, and, in the most extreme cases, some countries have adopted "stay in place" or lockdown protocols to prevent COVID-19 spread. Notably, there are several significant risk factors for severe COVID-19 infection. These include the presence of poor nutritional status and pre-existing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes mellitus, chronic lung diseases, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), obesity, and various other diseases that render the patient immunocompromised. These diseases are characterized by systemic inflammation, which may be a common feature of these NCDs, affecting patient outcomes against COVID-19. In this review, we discuss some of the anti-inflammatory therapies that are currently under investigation intended to dampen the cytokine storm of severe COVID-19 infections. Furthermore, nutritional status and the role of diet and lifestyle is considered, as it is known to affect patient outcomes in other severe infections and may play a role in COVID-19 infection. This review speculates the importance of nutrition as a mitigation strategy to support immune function amid the COVID-19 pandemic, identifying food groups and key nutrients of importance that may affect the outcomes of respiratory infections.

Lifestyle medicine

Fundamental Clinical Imbalances : Immune and inflammation
Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Covid-19/diet
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Nutrients
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

Jadad score : Not applicable
Allocation concealment : Not applicable
Publication Type : Journal Article ; Review


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Immune system ; Cytokine storm ; Mediterranean diet ; Western diet