I recently wrote an article for Univision Noticias, the leading Spanish-language network in the United States, that debunked nutrition myths surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. I wanted to share excerpts from the article with the English speaking community, so here it is:
Nurturing balanced nutrition is crucial for immune health. You may be concerned about staying healthy and strengthening your immune health to prevent the Covid-19 infection. In times of uncertainty and when doctors and public health officials do not have the ability to offer us a vaccine to prevent the novel coronavirus and pharmaceutical treatment to heal the Covid-19 infection, it is understandable to desire to find an alternative way to avoid the disease. But during this pandemic, it is more important than ever to be careful about the health information we consume and the health and nutrition practices we adopt. An avalanche of disinformation has been spreading on social media about miracle cures to prevent and heal Covid-19.
There is no product or medicine that, at the moment, offers prevention or a cure for the Covid-19 infection. It is important not to waste your resources, time, and money on products or practices that promise false results and are not endorsed by medical research and public health agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration , and The World Health Organization .
Here are some of the myths and disinformation about false miracle cures promoted by “influencers,” who are not qualified medical, nutrition, and public health professionals, unethical health professionals, and malicious companies that offer false promises of protection against Covid-19.
Myth: Eating garlic prevents Covid-19 infection.
Truth: Eating raw garlic or drinking boiled garlic water does not prevent coronavirus infection and does not cure Covid-19. The World Health Organization states that “there has been no evidence that eating it protects against the virus causing the current outbreak .” Fresh garlic contains allicin, a natural substance, that has antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties. Therefore, it is good to add it to your food, but garlic is not a magic cure for coronavirus.
Myth: Taking colloidal silver or “Miracle Minerals Supplement (MMS)” strengthens your immune system against the coronavirus.
Truth: Colloidal silver is a nutritional supplement that contains small particles of silver suspended in liquid. It has been sold as an alternative medicine to strengthen the immune system and prevent Covid-19. It is also sold as a miracle cure for infections of all kinds including coronavirus, herpes, HIV, and prostatitis. The National Institutes of Health warns that there are no scientific studies proving the medical benefits of colloidal silver . What’s more, colloidal silver can cause serious side effects such as blue skin and malabsorption of prescription drugs. The Food and Drug Administration reported that there is no valid evidence of the antiviral properties of MMS and that taking this supplement is dangerous, since it can cause severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, low blood pressure, dehydration and liver failure.
Myth: Oregano oil and other essential oils are antivirals and protect against Covid-19:
Truth:There are no scientific studies or clinical trials testing the effectiveness of oregano oil and other essential oils to prevent or cure coronavirus. “Influencers” and essential oil companies have made false statements about the antiviral and healing properties of essential oils 1, . Remember that essential oils are concentrated and many are not food grade, meaning that they are not made to be ingested. Instead of spending money on oregano oil, I recommend that you enjoy fresh or dried oregano leaves on your noodles, tacos, or favorite dishes. Oregano leaf is healthy and rich in antioxidants important for repairing damaged cells .
Myth: Drinking water every 15 minutes kills the Covid-19 virus.
Truth: There is a myth that drinking water every 15 minutes kills the novel coronavirus, since it causes the virus to move from the mouth to the stomach where gastric acid kills the virus. This statement has not been tested using rigorous scientific methods, and there is no clinical research to prove it. At the moment, we do not know if Covi-19, in addition to infecting the respiratory tract, may also be able to infect the digestive tract. Patients suffering from Covid-19 report nausea, diarrhea and stomach pain. Covid-19 virus particles were found in stool samples of Covid-19 patients.. The only safe and proven recommendation is to not touch your face including your eyes, nose, and mouth with your hands to prevent the virus from making contact with parts of the body where it can enter the body. Staying well hydrated, by drinking at least 8 cups of water per day is important for digestion and general health, but it does not prevent the Covid-19 infections.
Myth: Taking large doses of vitamin C and zinc and other immune boosters strengthens the immune system to fight Covid-19.
Truth: Vitamin C and zinc are important for the functioning of the immune system, but it is not necessary to take high doses of nutritional supplements and vitamins to prevent the coronavirus infection. There are no nutritional studies that support taking high doses of vitamin C or zinc to help fight Covid-19. Taking excess zinc supplements can cause “nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and headaches” and also weakens your immune system . When you take excess vitamin C, the body eliminates it through the urine, and it does not benefit you at all. To get healthy levels of vitamins and minerals, eat a balanced diet that consists of half your plate filled with fruits and vegetables, a quarter of your plate filled with protein, and a quarter of your plate filled with whole grains . Foods high in vitamin C include bell pepper, guava, parsley, strawberries, oranges, and lemon, broccoli, kale, and spinach. Foods high in zinc include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and eggs.
Myth: Gargling with chlorine, alcohol, salt, and warm water or drinking kills the coronavirus.
Truth: Gargling with alcohol or chlorine and ingesting them is dangerous and can cause damage such as burns to the mouth and esophagus and poisoning. It will not kill the virus once it has already entered the body 1. Chlorine and alcohol can be used to disinfect surfaces but should not be sprayed on the body, since it can damage the eyes, nose, and other sensitive parts. Gargling salt with warm water helps to soothe a sore throat, but does not cure an infection like the novel coronavirus. Drinking salt water can cause nausea and stomach pain .
Myth: Celery juice and elderberry cure viral infections like Covid-19
Truth: Celery juice and elderberry are erroneously promoted as antiviral miracle cures by “influencers” without medical or nutritional credentials like the Medical Medium. Celery juice is a healthy drink that can help you increase your intake of certain vitamins and minerals, but it is not a miracle cure for any virus including Covid-19 . You can get the health benefits of celery by adding it to soups, stews, stir-fries, and smoothies. Elderberry Honey contains vitamin C and antioxidants, and there are a few small studies that suggest that it may help alleviate cold symptoms. However, there is no scientific proof to support that it’s a cure for the Covid-19 infection.
Myth: Turmeric strengthens the respiratory system to prevent coronavirus.
Truth: There is misinformation about turmeric strengthening the lungs and immune system to fight Covid-19. Nutritional studies have linked the consumption of turmeric paired with black pepper, to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that can help alleviate arthritis symptoms, but there is no evidence that it can help prevent lung inflammation caused by the new coronavirus. .
Currently, there is no food or nutritional supplement that can prevent or cure Covid-19. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables that is balanced with healthy proteins such as beans, lentils or fish, and healthy fats such as avocado and olive oil, is crucial to keeping your digestive, cardiac, respiratory, metabolic and immune systems healthy .
To promote your immune health there is no need to buy expensive products that promise miraculous results that are not based on credible scientific studies.
During this public health emergency, remember to follow the recommendations of your local public health officials, federal health agencies, and trusted- health professionals.
~Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water especially before preparing food.
~do not touch your face, practice social distance, and wear a mask or bandana in public.
~It is crucial to stay at home even if you do not have symptoms. Try to limit your outings to essential activities like buying food or pick up medications.
~Keep at least six feet away from other other people, 13 feet if possible.
~If you are unwell with symptoms like a fever or cough, do not prepare food and quarantine yourself in a room away from others in your household.
If you follow these recommendations you will be taking care of your health, the health of your family, and the well-being of your community.