Understanding gut health symptoms during your COVID-19 recovery

Discover nutritional information and resources to help understand and improve gut health symptoms related to COVID-19

Gut symptoms

  • Change in taste and smell (anosmia)
  • Reduced or increased appetite
  • Reduced food intake
  • Feeling full
  • Lack of enjoyment of food and eating
  • Dry mouth
  • Swallowing problems (dysphagia) – particularly after intubation in ICU
  • Diarrhoea or any new gastro intestinal symptoms
  • Increased need for specific nutrients and/or fluid when intake may be poor

What do these symptoms have to do with my diet?

  • Digestion of food and nutrient absorption happens throughout your gut. The process begins from the moment you smell food, continues as you chew and swallow, until you excrete what was not absorbed. Any symptom which affects your gut may affect what you eat or what you absorb in your gut.
  • If one or more symptoms prevent you from eating (at all or eating enough) there is a risk that you will not meet your nutritional needs.
  • Diarrhoea may cause you to lose essential nutrients, so you may need to adjust your diet.

Resources

The British Dietetic Association Critical Care Specialist group provides eating recommendations after critical illness – Nutrition at Home after Critical Illness [PDF], which may include some of the same symptoms. 

Information includes:

  • eating a high protein diet
  • eating a balanced diet.
  • The same group also produce the Mindful Eating: Food Fact Sheet
The Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust's A guide to eating well [PDF] provide ideas for:
  • supporting people who have poor appetite
  • information on fortifying foods
  • fortifying meals, snacks and drinks.
The McMillan Community Dietetic Team's Managing taste changes [PDF] offers tips on:
  • managing change of taste
  • explaining why these happen
  • what patients can do
  • giving ideas to add flavour to foods.
The Swansea Bay University Health Board has a Covid and Long Covid recovery – therapy information pack which provides ideas for:
  • eating and drinking well
  • how to increase interest in food.
For more information, please see our underlying mechanisms of the symptoms and what we may learn from related conditions page.

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