Cold, Cough, Flu or ….COVID?

By Jenny Tschiesche BSc(Hons) Dip(ION) FdSc BANT

Back in the day, by that I mean pre-pandemic, if you felt a little under the weather, maybe had a runny nose and a cough, you would just assume you had a cold, right? You’d probably carry on going to work and not even give it a second thought. Now, however, you simply can’t. That’s because the same symptoms as might be a cold i.e. a headache, sore throat and a runny nose are now some of the main signs of Covid. This is even more likely to be the case if you are double vaccinated. There is growing evidence to suggest the people who have had two doses of the vaccine tend to present with less severe symptoms of Covid but those symptoms include a headache, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat and importantly a loss of smell.

Losing your sense of taste and smell is one of the most well-known Covid symptoms, and while people who have Covid might not lose their sense of smell completely, it may change. That means that you may not be able to smell things as strongly, you may have your sense of taste and smell affected and things may even taste and smell different from the way they normally do. Of course, if you have any of the symptoms mentioned above, and especially if you do have a loss of sense of taste and smell, you should take a test. Lateral Flow Testing (LFT) should be your first port of call followed by a PCR test if your lateral flow test comes out positive.

From a nutritional perspective there are certainly strategies to help you through this period. Whether you are testing positive or not for covid a loss of taste and smell it is commonly linked to your zinc status. Zinc is a trace mineral that has over 1000 different functions in the human body. We need varying amounts depending on our age, health conditions or even our gender. We can find zinc and foods like seafood, vegetables, nuts, eggs and meat. A lack of sufficient zinc means that an enzyme called carbonic anhydrase, which helps you to perceive smells and flavours, cannot work as efficiently.

Over 2 billion people worldwide are deficient in zinc. The issue is that the body doesn’t store zinc so we need to get it from our diet on a regular basis. That means that a real focus on healthy eating is required in order not to allow our levels to get too low. It’s easy to eat too many grains, flour and sugar which crowds out the diet, meaning that other foods that are rich in zinc don’t get a chance but also those foods can deplete your levels of zinc due to their phytic acid content.

If you are one of the many people who has lost their sense of taste and smell, whether you are diagnosed with covid or not here are my top three recommendations:

  1. Reduce the number of refined foods in your diet
  2. Eat foods rich in zinc
  3. Supplement your diet with a multivitamin such as nutriburst’s Health and Vitality Multivitamin