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Plant-based diets may reduce the risk of severe COVID-19, the study claims

Vegetarians have missed out on more than just meat – and that’s a good thing.

Researchers have revealed a link between diet and COVID-19, which showed that plant-based eaters were 73% less likely to get down with the virus compared to those who include animals in their diet. Meanwhile, pescatarians, whose primary protein source is fish, had a 59% lower risk.

The new study, published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, based these findings on a self-reported questionnaire submitted by a total of 2,884 individuals, all health professionals from six European countries, of whom 568 had confirmed cases of coronavirus during the previous year.

Among these cases, 1

38 said they had moderate to severe symptoms, while the remaining 430 experienced mild effects of the respiratory disease.

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Details of participants’ eating habits were also included in the study, which had 10 diet categories: “whole food” diet, keto diet, Mediterranean diet, Paleolithic diet, low fat diet, low carbohydrate diet and high protein diet, all of which include red and white meat plus plant-based / vegan diet, vegetarian diet and pescatar diet that omits red and white meat. “Other” was also chosen as an option.

Of those who had reported illness, only 41 had claimed to be on a plant-based diet, while a further 46 were pescatarian. The remaining 481 had all been on some form of meal regime that included livestock and poultry.

“Our results suggest that a healthy diet rich in nutritious foods can be considered for protection against severe COVID-19,” the authors examined in their press release.

It is unclear why shellfish and plant-based eaters have potentially fared better during the pandemic, as “limited” study can only show a link between the groups and severe COVID-19 disease, “so caution is needed in interpreting the results. “Shane McAuliffe, Vice President of the UK’s NNEdPro Nutrition and COVID-19 Taskforce, said in a separate statement attached to the press release.


Added by McAuliffe, “This study highlights the need for better designed prospective studies on the relationship between diet, nutritional status, and COVID-19 results.”

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