Food Is Medicine in the Fight Against Covid-19

Staying healthy in a pandemic means both avoiding infection and shoring up our immune systems

Geeta Maker-Clark, MD
Elemental
Published in
5 min readNov 25, 2020

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Photo: Bozhin Karaivanov/Unsplash

In medicine, as in other realms of life, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to unfold as a dark chapter of human history. Physicians have now treated scores of patients with every imaginable permutation of this infection. As unrelenting as this virus is, we have seen infectious disease epidemics before, and we know how to mitigate their spread.

The measures that physicians and public health agencies continue to advocate for — mask-wearing, physical distancing, hand-washing, avoiding large gatherings, and limiting travel — are based on decades of public health outcomes research. And we know they work.

While it is clear that these measures are essential, and have been critically important to limiting the contagion of the virus, which has left more than 245,000 people dead in the last eight months in the U.S. alone, and infected over 54 million people worldwide, we must ask ourselves what else can be done?

We know now that Covid-19 is a long-term public health threat. Until an effective vaccine is widely available, it will continue to spread. We also know this virus has been disproportionately killing our elders. From March through October 2020, 92% of deaths have been in the 55 and over age group. We also know that Black people are dying at a rate that is 2.3 times that of white people, and deaths are now rising in the 25–55 age group, as well as in the Hispanic and Latino population.

It is time to focus all of our energy on protecting our communities, as well as fortifying our immune systems for the long road ahead. In that context, prevention needs to include far more than avoidance.

The mandates for mask-wearing, hand-washing, and physical distancing are important focus points for the prevention of viral spread, but what we need now are the strongest immune systems we can build. The effective deployment of…

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Geeta Maker-Clark, MD
Elemental

Integrative Medicine. Director, Integrative Nutrition and Advocacy. Culinary Medicine Innovator, U of Chicago. Castanea Fellow. Activist. Activator