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A Diet that reduces the risk of developing severe covid by 73%, according to experts

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Jiya Saini
Jiya Saini is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. She has been working with us since January 2018. After studying at Jamia Millia University, she is fascinated by smart lifestyle and smart living. She covers technology, games, sports and smart living, as well as good experience in press relations. She is also a freelance trainer for macOS and iOS, and In the past, she has worked with various online news magazines in India and Singapore. Email: jiya (at) revyuh (dot) com

Studies suggest that this diet is associated with a 73% lower risk of severe covid-19.

Research on more than 2,000 health workers in six countries has revealed that following a plant and fish-based diet greatly reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection evolving into severe forms.

15 months of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic have been enough to uncover many important aspects of the once new pathogen: its modus operandi, its structure, its ability to mutate, how to treat it, etc.

We have also learned that it has a special predilection for people of a certain profile: elderly, obese, hypertensive, and diabetic, and we know the importance of adequate nutrition to have a strong immune system, capable of preventing infection.

Specifically, different studies have directly pointed out that low numbers of vitamins D and C have been found in patients hospitalized for COVID.

But there is still much to learn and discover, and from there will come new strategies to avoid or minimize the impact of the infection. 

Among the fields of research with the most practical potential is that of nutrition (it is not necessary to remember how diet makes us sick or keeps us healthy), and from here we have received one of the clearest messages: vegetables are extraordinary allies against the covid.

Vegetables galore

The news comes from a study carried out by institutions as prestigious as the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, or Stamford Hospital, all in the United States, and which has found that a diet composed mainly of Vegetables reduces the possibility of having severe covid by 73%, and a diet abundant in vegetables, fish and shellfish (pescetarian diet) also cushions the infection and reduces the risk of evolving to severe symptoms by more than 59%.

The work, which has been published in the journal ‘BMJ Nutrition’, has been developed from the results of the surveys carried out on 2,884 doctors and nurses in the first line of exposure to the virus in the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK.

Health professionals (95% doctors) answered (between the months of July and September 2020) a questionnaire with 100 items, of which 47 corresponded to the frequency of food consumption and the rest to aspects related to symptoms of covid-19, smoking, age, sex, race, etc.

Regarding dietary details, the survey focused on the consumption of the last year and raised different patterns: vegetarian, ketogenic, Mediterranean, pescetarian, paleolithic, low in fatlow in carbohydrates, rich in protein, paleolithic, or none of them.

The response

Among the participants, 568 reported having had covid, which in the majority (430) was mild (participants from the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, and France were more likely to develop the severe disease). 

Among the severe covid group, only 2.9% followed a plant-based diet, compared with 8.6% of those with mild disease. The clinical picture was also more important among professionals with a diet low in carbohydrates and high in protein.

Participants who followed a mostly plant-based diet also ate more plant proteins (legumes and nuts) and less meat (poultry, red, and processed), few sugary drinks, and alcohol. Similarly, those on the pescetarian diet (fish or shellfish three times a week) ate very little meat.

After analyzing all the data, the authors, led by Dr. Sara B Seidelmann, from Columbia University and Stamford Hospital, reported that vegetarian diets reduce the chances of severe covid by 73% and pescetarian diets by 59%. 

On the other hand, a low-carbohydrate, high-protein diet plan is associated with a 48% higher risk of moderate to severe covid.

Pioneering study

The researchers defend that their study is pioneering when it comes to identifying the type of diet associated with the severity of the pandemic disease. However, there is a precedent, and it is a study by the University of Tehran, on 206 covid-19 patients, in which it was found that physical activity, higher consumption of fruits and poultry, and less tea were associated with milder disease.

What explanation is there for the benefit of diets rich in vegetables? 

As we have explained polyphenols, carotenoids, fiber, vitamins (A, C, and D), and minerals (iron, potassium, and magnesium) strengthen the immune system, favoring the production of antibodies, lymphocytes and reduce oxidative stress.

Regarding fish, the authors emphasize that they are an important source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Despite the significance of the findings, the researchers appeal for caution, arguing that it is an observational study, based on self-reported responses and in a limited number of cases. 

For this reason, they say that more and more extensive studies are needed.

However, the ‘BMJ’ article reinforces the idea that nutrition plays an important role in people’s immune capacity.

Image Credit: Getty

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