Plant-Based Diets and COVID-19

A recent study found that people who ate a plant-based diet had 73% lower odds of contracting moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

With COVID-19 still a major crisis, researchers have begun to examine how various dietary patterns may influence both an individual’s susceptibility to the virus and the severity of their symptoms. Consuming a specific diet may have an effect on an individual’s immune system. Further, certain health conditions related to a poor diet, including obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, are considered risk factors for COVID-19.

Read about how a poor diet—filled with highly refined foods—may lead to an increased risk of death here.

The researchers in this study recruited frontline physicians and nurses from France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK, and the USA, all of whom had frequent contact with COVID-19 patients. The participants filled out a survey that included a food frequency questionnaire to determine their dietary patterns, which included plant-based, vegetarian, Paleo, Mediterranean, and other categories. Several categories were grouped together to examine any contrast between fully plant-based diets and those that are mostly plant-based but may include some animal products.

Learn about how to strengthen your immune system by eating healthfully, here. And try this recipe for Vegan Watermelon Poke Quinoa Tofu Bowl to dive into more plant-based eating.

The researchers found that the participants who ate a plant-based diet had 73% lower odds of contracting “moderate-to-severe COVID-19” in comparison to those who did not eat plant-based diets. In addition, those who consumed either a plant-based or pescatarian diet had 59% lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 in comparison to those who did not.

You might be wondering if nutrients or dietary supplements can help prevent COVID-19. Learn the answers here!    

These results are likely due to the higher proportion of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and grains in the plant-based diets, as these foods contain many protective and beneficial nutrients and compounds. Certain nutrients, including the vitamins A, C, and E, may be beneficial for the immune system. Additionally, Western style eating patterns, or less plant-based diets that are high in animal products and refined grains, have been linked to pro-inflammatory effects. Overall, following a plant-based diet has yet again been shown to be an amazing way to live a healthy and happy life.

Looking to start eating plant-based? Try these delicious recipes:

Summer Vegetarian Chili
Moroccan Chickpea Sorghum Bowl
Tofu Mushroom Tacos

For other recent plant-based research studies, check out the latest:

Climate Change Leads to Poor Diets for Children
Plant-Based Diets Help Fight Stroke
What Diet is the Worst for the Environment?

Main Image: Asparagus Dill Tofu Quiche by Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

Written by Kathryn Atkinson, Dietetic Intern with Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN

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