Sapienza University of Rome (Italy) – Food and Covid-19: preventive and co-therapeutic support strategies
In response to the Covid-19 emergency, there has been an increase in studies aimed at counteracting its spread or reducing symptoms and risks and restoring the body’s state of health, particularly in the medical, engineering, diagnostic, psychological, economic and anthropological fields. In contrast, the potential contribution of food to health status has not been adequately investigated.Yet, the strategic role of food and that of its components − whether macro, micronutrients or secondary metabolites − in maintaining or developing a general state of health is widely known, which in turn helps to combat infections, including viral infections, while at the same time helping to mitigate any symptoms arising from related diseases.On the basis of these assumptions, the team of researchers led by Luisa Mannina of the Department of Chemistry and Technology of Drugs of Sapienza, Alberto Ritieni and Michela Grosso of the University of Naples Federico II, and Maria Teresa Russo of the Mediterranea University of Reggio Calabria, collaborating with the Italian Society of Food Chemistry (ITACHEMFOOD), analysed the role of food in the strategies adopted to tackle the current Covid-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
In the review, published on the journal Foods by the MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute), the researchers assessed the role of food and its components as preventive and protective agents for viral infection and as adjuvants in Covid-19 treatment protocols.
Specifically, the review included extensive bibliographic research that led to the identification of two main lines of research concerning the correlation between food and Covid-19. The first concerns the enhancement of the immune system through the intake of foods or their constituents, such as vitamins, minerals and secondary metabolites. The studies carried out through ongoing clinical trials are aimed at developing nutraceutical formulations to support traditional therapeutic protocols.
The second line of research focuses on interactions between specific food components and proteins involved in the viral cycle of SARS-CoV-2 to identify active molecules as possible drug precursors to be evaluated by in vitro and in vivo tests.
“Thanks to the reconnaissance and subsequent evaluations carried out in our work − says Luisa Mannina − we have demonstrated how the strategies we have been testing highlight the potential role of food in the prevention and/or support of conventional therapeutic protocols and therefore in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic more successfully. However, it is important to always rely on scientific evidence to avoid the spread of fake news, which in this period has often dominated the world of information creating myths and sometimes useless hopes.”
Food and COVID-19: Preventive/Co-therapeutic Strategies Explored by Current Clinical Trials and in Silico Studies − Giacomo Di Matteo, Mattia Spano, Michela Grosso, Andrea Salvo, Cinzia Ingallina, Mariateresa Russo, Alberto Ritieni and Luisa Mannina − Foods, 2020. DOI https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9081036