Patients with malnutrition and malnutrition have poorer prognoses than healthy people for the course of corona disease. Nutrition scientists at the University of Hohenheim advise people from high-risk groups to improve their nutritional status and physical condition. However, the problem does not only affect old people.
Older age, previous illnesses, a weak immune system or smoking: These are frequently mentioned risk factors for a possible severe course in corona disease. Scientists at the University of Hohenheim are now pointing to another apparently underestimated risk factor.
“People who are prone to malnutrition and malnutrition due to old age and previous illnesses – or who develop or intensify them during intensive care – are particularly at risk from COVID-19,” warns Stephan Bischoff, Director of the Institute of Nutritional Medicine at the University of Hohenheim-Stuttgart. Bischoff expressly advises people from the well-known risk groups to pay more attention to their nutritional status in order to increase their body’s resistance.
Good nutritional status: Lower risk of death or consequential damage
“A good nutritional status of the patients significantly reduces the likelihood of going through a severe course of the disease, developing permanent consequential damage or even dying,” emphasizes nutritionist Bischoff. The following appeal is therefore made to his medical colleagues: Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition and malnutrition should therefore routinely be an integral part of the treatment of every COVID-19 patient.
In an ongoing study, researchers from the University Medical Center Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH) are already investigating whether Covid 19 patients can be stabilized by targeted medical optimization of their nutritional status and whether severe courses of the disease can be reduced. Specifically, it is about the administration of vitamin B3 and silica.
Malnutrition is a common phenomenon in children
The nutritionist from Stuttgart, however, urges that the risk groups not only think of older people. “Malnutrition and malnutrition as well as being overweight are also a very present phenomenon in our society even with children. With these preloads, the risk of viral pneumonia and a life-threatening course of infection increases. “
Quarantine: danger of bad eating habits
Even in patients who should be quarantined due to suspected COVID-19, the nutritional status could deteriorate. “The 14-day quarantine at home promotes a sedentary or lying lifestyle, for example in front of the television or the computer,” says Bischoff. “As a result, regular physical activity and thus energy consumption decrease.” Quarantine, which actually serves health purposes, can also lead to worsening of chronic diseases, weight gain, the reduction of skeletal muscles and a reduced immune response. This increases the risk of developing non-infected people in quarantine.
Anti-corona nutrition strategy: Get help from experts
The expert from Stuttgart advises people from risk groups to carry out preventive examinations for possible nutritional deficiencies. Support for an anti-corona nutritional strategy could be obtained from people with known malnutrition and malnutrition or at risk from nutritionists or medical experts, says Bischoff. These could also assess the extent to which supplementation of the daily diet with vitamins and minerals is necessary in order to achieve an optimal defense against infection.
Prevention: “Benefits of vitamin preparations not proven”
The nutritionist expressly advises against overestimating the effects of concentrated vitamin preparations. “It is important to prevent and treat micronutrient deficits,” says Bischoff. “However, there is no evidence that, in well-nourished, healthy individuals, the routine use of high doses of micronutrients can prevent COVID-19 infection or improve disease progression.”
Covid-19: Vomiting and diarrhea can interfere with food intake
According to Bischoff, staying in an intensive care unit, which may become necessary due to severe respiratory diseases, more often leads to malnutrition and malnutrition in COVID-19 patients developing or aggravating due to the inflammatory processes. Although the virus mainly affects the respiratory tract, the disease can also be accompanied by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, which also affects food intake and utilization.
Corona and nutrition: advice for doctors
As a member of an international team of scientists, the Stuttgart professor developed recommendations and specific treatment suggestions for doctors. A 10-point guide was published in the clinical journal “Clinical Nutrition”. The expert recommendation was initiated by the European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN). According to its own statements, the world’s largest specialist society for nutritional medicine ESPEN, several thousand medical specialists from all over Europe have come together.
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