Nutrition, the digestive system and immunity in COVID-19 infection.

Gastroenterology and hepatology from bed to bench. 2020;13(4):331-340
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Covid-19 needs both prevention and recovery strategies to reduce complications. This review study aimed to discuss the associations between nutrition, obesity, and the impact these have on stomach symptoms associated with Covid-19. Obesity has been identified as a risk factor for Covid-19 and this could be due to several factors such as impaired immune function, increased inflammation, increased susceptibility to infection and the high number of cells on fat tissue, which express the receptor known to allow Covid-19 into cells. The involvement of the gut microbiota of obese individuals was extensively reviewed and gut dysbiosis has been associated with many diseases, thus improving gut microbiota may go some way to improving Covid-19 outcomes. Nutritional interventions to reduce obesity need to be part of a multi-pronged strategy and the possible introduction of vitamin D supplements and probiotics. The paper did not draw any conclusions; however this paper could be used by healthcare professionals to understand the role of obesity in increasing the risk of Covid-19 infection, complications that may arise upon and after infection and nutritional strategies as part of a management plan.


The current review aimed to synthesize the literature on the complex relationship between food consumption and nutritional status as well as the digestive system in order to examine the relationship between immunity and potential responses to COVID-19 infection. The goal is to help inform the many healthcare professionals working with COVID-19 patients. A literature search was performed on PubMed, Scopus, and EMBASE databases. Hand searches were also undertaken using Google and reference lists to identify recent evidence. Studies were critically appraised, and the findings were analyzed by narrative synthesis. Nutritional status can impact immunity in several ways, including affecting susceptibility to infection, severity of disease, and recovery time, and is therefore a significant consideration in the management of COVID-19. COVID-19 can also impact digestive function, which can further impact nutritional status. The role of Vitamin D deficiency in vulnerability to severe respiratory infections, including COVID-19, has been recognized, and it may have a role in treatment where deficiency is indicated. Healthcare professionals should be aware that obesity may be accompanied by micronutrient malnutrition including vitamin D deficiency and alterations in the microbiome and inflammatory responses, which can further impact immunity and disease severity. Multidisciplinary team-work is recommended in the management of patients with COVID-19, and approaches should include a consideration of nutritional status (both macronutrients and micronutrients), body weight, and gastrointestinal signs and symptom.

Lifestyle medicine

Patient Centred Factors : Triggers/Covid-19
Environmental Inputs : Diet ; Physical exercise
Personal Lifestyle Factors : Nutrition ; Exercise and movement
Functional Laboratory Testing : Not applicable

Methodological quality

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


Nutrition Evidence keywords : Supplementation ; Immunity ; Microbiota ; Nutrition