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Five foods capable of fighting against COVID-19

Five foods that help lower the risk of catching the COVID-19 in the first place

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Kuldeep Singh
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With the pandemic still raging, the health officials have warned of “potentially devastating consequences”, despite the successful vaccine roll-out in the United States.

Against this climate, finding ways to shield yourself against the virus is mission-critical.

Luckily, some foods have been shown to boost the immune system – the body’s defences against COVID-19.

Emily Leeming, a nutrition researcher and registered dietitian at King’s College London, has uncovered key foods you can eat to make your immune system stronger.

Leeming was a part of a study that discovered that persons who eat a high-quality, plant-rich diet are less likely to contract COVID-19 or end up in the hospital with it.

A high-quality, plant-based diet, she said, can provide protection against COVID-19.

This includes “chowing down on more healthy plant-based whole foods – such as fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans and pulses), seeds and whole grains”, said Leeming.

It also includes eating oily fish and fewer highly processed foods.

The dietary recommendations are based on research that shows that following this diet is linked to a decreased incidence of COVID-19 infection.

The researchers behind the ZOE COVID Study app, which collects data from millions of users, requested users to fill out a thorough diet questionnaire on the food they ate before and during the pandemic in the autumn of 2020.

The researchers analysed all of the diet data and mapped it against COVID symptoms and positive tests recorded in the app with the help of research partners at Harvard Medical School and King’s College London.

They observed that persons who consume a high-quality, plant-rich diet have a lower risk of contracting COVID-19 and ending up in the hospital with it.

This is the first time that diet has been shown to reduce the risk of developing the disease

noted the researchers.

Rather than focusing on individual meals or minerals, the app’s poll was created to examine wider dietary patterns that are more representative of how we actually consume.

The results were combined to create a “diet quality score” that represents the total nutritional content of each person’s usual diet.

Diets with high quality ratings, on average, include more plant-based foods including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fatty fish, as well as fewer processed foods and refined carbs.

Furthermore, the researchers recently discovered that people who consume a higher-quality diet have a healthier and more varied microbiota in their intestines.

“Eating this kind of ‘gut friendly’ diet is linked to a wide range of better health outcomes, including reduced inflammation and body fat, and improved blood fat and sugar levels,” they reported.

But, after accounting for age, BMI, ethnicity, smoking, physical activity, and underlying health problems, as well as mask-wearing behaviours and population density, the link between food quality and COVID-19 risk remained.

Furthermore, a small recent study found that persons who consume a plant-based or pescatarian diet (mostly vegetarian but incorporating fish and seafood) are less likely to develop COVID-19-related severe illness.

The most recent study, on the other hand, was the first to prove that eating a higher-quality diet lowers the risk of acquiring the condition in the first place.

Although the specific mechanism by which diet reduces COVID-19 risk is unknown, research co-leader Professor Andrew Chan MD, MPH, of Massachusetts General Hospital and professor at Harvard Medical School believes inflammation may play a role.

He said:

Diet quality is an established risk factor for many conditions that are known to have an inflammatory basis. Our study demonstrates that this may also hold true for COVID-19, a virus which is known to provoke a severe inflammatory response.

Image Credit: iStock

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