- A new small study finds a link between plant-based and pescatarian diets and milder cases of COVID-19.
- The study is based on the experiences of physicians and nurses with severe exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
- People whose diet was plant-based or fish-based had a much lower risk of developing severe COVID-19.
All data and statistics are based on data available to the public at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date.
For some people, COVID-19 is a life-threatening disease, while for others, it is little more than a short-term annoyance. To some extent, this is a function of an individual’s concomitant diseases. However, why SARS-CoV-2 appears so differently in different people remains a mystery.
Some research has shown that this may have to do with a person’s diet, and a new six-nation study involving people working in the first line of care for COVID-19 provides new striking evidence.
Health care professionals who ate a plant-based diet were 73% less likely to experience moderate to severe COVID-19, and those who followed a plant-based or fish-based diet were 59% less likely to become seriously ill. .
The study authors write, “Our results suggest that a healthy diet rich in nutrient-rich foods may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19.”
The study appears in the journal BMJ Food, Prevention and Healthwith
The researchers surveyed 2,884 doctors and nurses whose work with patients exposed them to SARS-CoV-2. Participants were from the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France and Germany. The survey was created to find out “the link between self-reported diets and COVID-19 infection, severity and duration of symptoms”.
Of the entire group, 2,316 of the participants had not experienced any symptoms of COVID-19 or had not tested positive for the virus. These individuals served as the study control group.
The remaining 568 individuals either had COVID-19-compliant symptoms or a positive swab test. Of these, 138 persons reported moderate to severe COVID-19. The rest had only mild or very mild cases of the disease.
In their analysis, the researchers took into account age, ethnicity, medical profession, weight, body mass index, comorbidities and lifestyle behaviors, including smoking and level of physical activity.
The researchers asked participants to choose a diet from 11 selections that most closely resembled theirs last year. The researchers then created dietary models by combining participants’ choices in groups, such as whole foods, plant-based diets; vegetarian diets; or peskatarian diet.
Compared to the following plant-based diets, people who reported eating a low-carb, high-protein diet were four times more likely to develop moderate to severe COVID-19 symptoms.
The study found no link between diet and the possibility of developing COVID-19 or the duration of the disease.
Dr. Scott Kaiser, of Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, considers this research valuable.
Tha ai Medical News Today“Such studies are really great because they create hypotheses. Importers it is important to do these population-level studies and look at the associations and create additional hypotheses to investigate further. “
While the study establishes a link between these diets and the severity of COVID-19, it does not determine causation. MNT asked Cleveland Clinic nutritionist Kristin Kirkpatrick to speculate on why there might be such a strong link between these diets and the severity of COVID-19:
“This may be due to the fact that plant-based and pescatarian patterns are also associated with reduced anti-inflammatory markers. [O]their studies have shown that worsening of COVID-19 symptoms may be related to inflammatory factors. “
The study suggests that the nutrients in a plant-based diet that can help people with COVID-19 are phytochemicals, such as polyphenols and carotenoids, and minerals and vitamins, which all support a healthy immune system. Fishermen get beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D — all anti-inflammatory substances — from fish.
The findings may be more applicable than just COVID-19. Kirkpatrick said: “My belief is that any diet that includes nutrient-rich options can really help […] alleviation of a variety of chronic conditions. This is clearly seen in the data over a decade. ”
Shane McAuliffe, vice president of the NNEdPro Nutrition Task Force and COVID-19, noted that the study has two main limitations: small size and reliance on self-reporting.
Dr. Kaiser hopes for research that traces “the current biology of what is happening and try to measure, for example, the levels of certain nutrients, minerals, vitamins, etc., in patients, actually measure blood levels.”
There are some other important limitations to this study. For example, as the authors note, COVID-19 tests were not always available at the time of the study, and we now know that people may have the disease but show no symptoms. Therefore, some participants may have been misclassified as “controls” in the study when, in reality, they may have had COVID-19. This may affect the accuracy of the results.
Moreover, the relatively small sample size meant that there were wide margins of error in estimates of how much diet had an impact on people’s risk of becoming seriously ill. For example, for people who follow a plant-based diet, the chances of getting seriously ill were somewhere between 19 and 90% lower.
The authors also found that when they adapted to access to personal protective equipment (PPE), the results for the plant-based diet seemed to hold, but the plant-based or fish-based diet ceased to be statistically significant. Therefore, it is possible that the relationship between diet and disease severity can be explained by other factors, such as PPE, to which the researchers did not adapt.
Finally, most of the people in this study were white male white doctors. Therefore, we still do not know how general these results are for the rest of the population.
As McAuliffe concluded:
“This study highlights the need for future better designed studies on the relationship between diet, nutritional status and COVID-19 outcomes.”
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