People who follow a plant-based diet are 73 percent less likely to experience moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms, according to a new study published in the scientific journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention and Health. The study involved 2,884 frontline healthcare professionals from six countries – including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States – of whom 568 were infected with COVID-19. The purpose of the study was to investigate the association between dietary patterns and COVID-19, including the severity of symptoms and the duration of the disease.
Between July and September 2020, participants provided information on demographic characteristics, medical history, lifestyle, and COVID-1
Among the 568 cases, 138 individuals had moderate to severe COVID-19 severity, and 430 individuals had very mild to mild COVID-19 severity. Participants who reported following plant-based diets, including a vegetarian diet, had 73 percent lower odds of moderate to severe symptoms, and those who reported following a pescatarian diet had 59 percent lower odds compared to those who did not follow these. diets. Compared to participants who reported following plant-based diets, those who reported having a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet, such as keto or paleo, which typically contain a high animal protein, were almost four times more likely to experience a moderate – to-severe form of COVID-19.
Among COVID-19 cases, individuals who reported following plant-based diets ingested more vegetables, fruits, and plant proteins such as legumes and nuts. The study’s authors explained that these foods provide important vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support the immune system and reduce the risk of respiratory infections. “In six countries, plant-based diets or pescatar diets were associated with lower odds of moderate to severe COVID-19. These dietary patterns can be considered as protection against severe COVID-19, ”the study concluded.
Plant-based diets support immune function
Although healthcare professionals and other individuals are or have already been vaccinated in many countries at present, it is important to consider the emergence of new variants and challenges in accessing COVID-10 vaccines globally, so that understanding the risk factors associated with virus susceptibility in individuals could assist in the development of supportive strategies for the protection of workers now and in the future.
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