Plant-Based Diet Can Lessen The Severity of Covid

In the past year, two studies have revealed that eating a plant-based diet can substantially impact the severity of Covid infections. Diet quality and risk and severity of COVID-19: a prospective cohort study used data from nearly 600 000 people, of whom over 30 000 had covid. The researchers found that ‘A dietary pattern characterised by healthy plant-based foods was associated with lower risk and severity of COVID-19.'


The second study, Plant-based diets, pescatarian diets and COVID-19 severity: a population-based case–control study in six countries analysed frontline health care workers from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the USA. The study monitored 2316 participants, of whom 568 contracted Covid. The researchers found that:


‘After adjusting for important confounders, participants who reported following ‘plant-based diets’ and ‘plant-based diets or pescatarian diets’ had 73% [plant-based diet] and 59% [pescatarian diets] lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19, respectively, compared with participants who did not follow these diets.’ Interestingly, the researchers also found that those following popular High Protein Low Carbohydrate diets (such as the Atkins diet) ‘had >3-fold higher odds of moderate-to-severe COVID- 19’.


Why Is A Plant-Based Diet Better?

According to the authors of the second study:
‘Plant-based diets are rich in nutrients, especially phytochemicals (polyphenols, carotenoids), with prior studies reporting higher fibre, vitamins A, C, and E, folate, and mineral (iron, potassium, magnesium) intake among those with highest versus lowest adherence to plant-based diets. Studies have reported that supplementation of some of these nutrients, specifically, vitamins A, C, D, and E, decreased the risk of respiratory infections, such as the common cold and pneumonia, and shortened the duration of these illnesses. These nutrients are hypothesised to support the immune system as they play important roles in the production of antibodies, proliferation of lymphocytes, and reduction of oxidative stress.’


While it's nice to see these studies, there is nothing groundbreaking in their findings. Eating a diet rich in plant foods has long been known to be beneficial to human health for a variety of reasons. Plants are rich in micronutrients and phytonutrients. These are tiny compounds play an important role in the functioning of your immune system.


Key Takeaways

If you want to have good health, not just during as Covid, but for life – eating a diet rich in a variety of plant foods will give you the foundation you need. As the researchers themselves have said, 'Studies have hypothesized that an unhealthy dietary pattern, such as Western diets which are high in refined sugars, processed foods, and red and processed meats, can be pro-inflammatory and have negative health impacts.’


Good health is not something that comes in a pill or a 6-week cleanse – but instead is something that you develop through lifelong healthful practices, including:
- Diet
- Exercise
- Sleep
- Water; and
- Stress management.


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