By Ronald B. Brown Originally Published in Medicina ~ July 2021
Dietary factors in the etiology of COVID-19 are understudied. High dietary sodium intake leading to sodium toxicity is associated with comorbid conditions of COVID-19 such as hypertension, kidney disease, stroke, pneumonia, obesity, diabetes, hepatic disease, cardiac arrhythmias, thrombosis, migraine, tinnitus, Bell’s palsy, multiple sclerosis, systemic sclerosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome. This article synthesizes evidence from epidemiology, pathophysiology, immunology, and virology literature linking sodium toxicological mechanisms to COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 infection. Sodium toxicity is a modifiable disease determinant that impairs the mucociliary clearance of virion aggregates in nasal sinuses of the mucosal immune system, which may lead to SARS-CoV-2 infection and viral sepsis. In addition, sodium toxicity causes pulmonary edema associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome, as well as inflammatory immune responses and other symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever and nasal sinus congestion. Consequently, sodium toxicity potentially mediates the association of COVID-19 pathophysiology with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Sodium dietary intake also increases in the winter, when sodium losses through sweating are reduced, correlating with influenza-like illness outbreaks. Increased SARS-CoV-2 infections in lower socioeconomic classes and among people in government institutions are linked to the consumption of foods highly processed with sodium. Interventions to reduce COVID-19 morbidity and mortality through reduced-sodium diets should be explored further.