Expert Nutritionist, Michelle McKenzie, takes us on the journey of her experience with Long Covid and how she got through it.
We are almost two years into the global pandemic and unfortunately the powers that be are still not talking about the importance of diet and lifestyle. There is so much more YOU can be doing starting with good nutrition, supplements when necessary and some positive lifestyle changes.
I caught Covid in the first wave in March 2020 (unconfirmed as there wasn’t any testing available) and over the course of the next 11 months dealt with an onslaught of different symptoms from nerve pain, internal tremors, ear infections, rashes, headaches, lung issues, jaw, muscle and joint pain, brain fog and last but not least, extreme fatigue. It was a rollercoaster ride of physical and mental peaks and troughs. I would have days and sometimes a week of feeling OK and I would think, yes! I’m through it but then boom, everything would come back and I would feel like I was back to square one and back to bed I’d go. I’m pleased to report, I am now feeling great.
As long Covid is still a fairly new phenomenon, everyone is scrambling to work out what can be done to aid healing, it’s like a big jigsaw puzzle as so many different parts of the body are affected. The medical establishment are doing their best to work out what to do, but as always, they are looking at our body systems separately rather than as a whole. We need to address this holistically, we need to address all dis-ease holistically as everything in our body is connected.
As a nutritionist I felt very grateful that I understood what my body needed to thrive and heal and was happy to experiment on myself and the one thing that really made a huge difference was fasting. I fast most days – I always leave between 12 to 14 hours from my last meal in the evening to my breakfast the next day but until recently I hadn’t explored 24 / 48 / 36 hour fasts as they had always felt too daunting. However, based on lots of clinical evidence and the benefits of prolonged fasting it felt like the right time to try it as I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Based on published research, there is a way to eat three small nutritious meals a day that contain a very specific combination of macronutrients that tricks your body into thinking that you are in a fasting state and in turn stimulates a healing process throughout the entire body. Based on this amazing research, I designed a plant based diet that I could repeat until I felt better. I also made sure that the five day fast focused on foods that were nutrient dense with an emphasis on healing foods that my body and gut bacteria will LOVE.
The first time I carried out the fast, now fondly called my Regeneration Diet, I felt my energy returning. It was magical. Unfortunately, a few weeks later the familiar achy, painful symptoms returned so I did it again. The same thing happened every time I did the fast, so I repeated it until I finally felt well again. I would like to point out that this diet may not be the panacea for everyone experiencing long Covid but I can say wholeheartedly that this worked for me and some clients are seeing relief from long Covid symptoms after just one round.
‘And when I woke up on the 6th day at 7am (I never get up at this time) I had so much energy and felt incredible. The brain fog had lifted and my aches and pains stopped. It felt like a miracle. One year in I didn’t think my Covid symptoms would ever go away but they did and the brain fog and aches never came back. Michelle’s delicious menu made it so much easier to do and I even did it a 2nd time a couple of months later which also helped.’ Karey
When you carry out a prolonged fast the body starts to search for energy elsewhere -turning to protein found within our cells. The organelle within the cell with the most protein is the mitochondria. The mitochondria are regarded as the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell and are responsible for generating energy. If our mitochondria are not functioning properly this will affect our overall energy levels and can also impact other conditions including cancer, gastrointestinal problems, MS and chronic fatigue. The mitochondria also play a role in the aging process – as we age there is a natural decline in mitochondrial quality and activity which can trigger inflammation and a range of age-related conditions.
When we fast, our clever bodies break down the unhealthy organelles and leave the healthy organelles, essentially ‘cleaning’ up the cell and the mitochondria. This is why this diet is so powerful playing a role in both the prevention and reversal of disease.
The Regeneration Diet ignites your body’s innate ability to heal by stimulating the following:
· Triggering the metabolic switch into a ketogenic state (ketosis).
· Improves blood glucose, insulin sensitivity and insulin like growth factor (IGF-1).
· Induces autophagy (self-eating parts of the cell) and replaces damaged cell components with newly generated functional ones.
· Promotes fat loss – stimulates abdominal/visceral fat-burning mode.
· Promotes immune system regeneration and rejuvenation.
· Reduces inflammation (C-reactive protein levels).
· Switches cells to a protected anti-aging mode.
· Stimulates stem cell regeneration which can influence healing throughout the whole body.
· Increases energy, focus and mental clarity.
The 5 day diet regenerates and rejuvenates the whole body. It reduces inflammation, increases energy levels and targets damaged cells, which is exactly what my body needed to do. I love feeling the effects of this diet and I now happily repeat it a few times a year to reap all the wonderful health benefits that it provides.
Fasting aside and depending on what symptoms you are personally experiencing, other supplements, dietary approaches and therapies that I feel have supported me on my journey were probiotics (microbiome health is fundamental with recent literature suggesting Covid outcomes are determined by the diversity and type of gut bacteria), prebiotics, quercetin, black seed oil, NAC, Chinese herbs, a food based multivitamin (that contains vitamins c, d, zinc, magnesium), curcumin, acupuncture, Qigong, cranial osteopathy, good hydration, yoga and meditation. It’s also very important that you rest and sleep when you need to.
Diet wise it’s important to cut out sugar, refined carbohydrates, seed oils and gluten as they are all pro-inflammatory. Some people will also benefit from cutting back on dairy as this can also be inflammatory for some, especially if you have an autoimmune condition. As always, when cutting out food groups such as dairy, seek advice from a nutritionist or functional medicine practitioner and they will be able to steer you in the direction that’s best suited for you.
I did get there and if you or a loved one are experiencing lingering symptoms, you will get there too. There’s lots that you can do. Hang in there. Your body wants to be in balance, it just needs to be steered in the right direction.
If you would like to know more about the Regeneration Diet please get in contact and I can answer any questions you may have.
I am now running Retreats using the Regeneration Diet to boost your health with the support of incredible holistic treatments.