How to boost your immune system while recovering from COVID-19

Omy Naidoo, a registered dietitian, shares four immune-boosting nutrition tips for people with diabetes and obesity when recovering from COVID-19.

People with diabetes and who are obese are part of the vulnerable group whose immune system is easily compromised, making them vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. If someone has been exposed to or contracted the virus, healthy nutrition is essential for recovery in boosting their immune system.

The impact of COVID-19 is greater for people with diabetes and are 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.

According to the World Health Organisation, 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.

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 their body needs. They should also drink enough water, avoid sugar, fat and salt to significantly lower their risk of diabetes and obesity.

Four immune-boosting nutrition tips for people with diabetes and obesity when 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.

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

Vitamins and minerals

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are loaded with immune-boosting, 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 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 a sufficient amount of vitamin D.

Less sugar and salt

  • When cooking and preparing food, limit the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments (e.g. soya sauce and fish sauce).
  • Limit your daily salt intake to less than 5g (approximately 1 teaspoon), and use iodized salt.
  • Avoid foods (e.g. snacks) that are high in salt and sugar.
  • Limit your intake of soft drinks or sodas and other drinks that are high in sugar (e.g. fruit juices, fruit juice concentrates and syrups, flavoured milk and yoghurt drinks). Choose fresh fruits instead of sweet snacks, such as 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.


Omy Naidoo is a registered dietitian and founder of Newtricion Wellness Dieticians. He has been in practice for 13 years. He worked within the government sector and then moved into the pharmaceutical industry. His key focus is on diabetes products. This enabled him to further his knowledge and skills in diabetes management. Thereafter he went into private practice.

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