The ‘blue zone’ that defied COVID-19

What I’m about to share with you certainly isn’t new news.

But it IS a reminder of some important things we already knew regarding the relationship between food and health.

It’s also confirmation from a reliable source that we could very well have one more ace up our sleeves to protect against a serious COVID-19 infection. All we have to do is simply apply this knowledge.

And it’s not hard to do, either.

Doctors suggest plant-based eating prevents severe COVID

In a commentary published in January in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, two doctors call for more people to adopt a “blue zone” diet — essentially a plant-based diet eaten in areas of the world where the population is particularly healthy and long-lived — because research shows it can help reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 and death. 

Research has already shown that eating a plant-based diet may help prevent metabolic syndrome, a group of physical problems that lead to diabetes and heart disease (both of which increase the likelihood that a COVID-19 infection will be severe or deadly).

Dr. Hana Kahleova and Dr. Neal Barnard are both members of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Here’s the concluding statement in their commentary, which pretty well sums up their thinking:

“Adopting a healthful plant-based diet and lifestyle is a powerful tool which may delay the aging process, decrease age-associated co-morbidities, and decrease the risk of severe Covid-19 and mortality.

“It represents the most cost-effective approach and should be largely promoted and incorporated in everyday practice. This is a booster that is needed at this unprecedented time and that may actually work to mitigate Covid-19.”

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Okinawa vs. Tokyo: a huge difference

In their commentary, Drs. Kahleova and Barnard cite several studies showing the benefits of a plant-based diet in avoiding COVID-19. But one, in particular, is striking.

It’s also where we can start when it comes to taking action and applying this knowledge for our well-being.

The doctors cite a study comparing mortality rates from COVID-19 in two Japanese cities: Tokyo and Okinawa.

As you may know, the island of Okinawa is considered one of the world’s Blue Zones, where a large percentage of the population lives to a healthy 100 years of age. The Okinawans eat a plant-based diet made of leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and only on occasion, fish and very little meat.

The study showed that, as of June 16, 2021, the COVID-19 mortality rate in Okinawa was 0.08% (163 deaths out of 19,782 cases), which is one-sixteenth that of Tokyo (mortality rate 1.3%; 2183 deaths out of 167,416 cases).

And this was the case, even though Okinawa is roughly the same size as Tokyo, and vaccination rates in July 2021 were low in both places.

Now, this isn’t the first study that tied a diet like this to better outcomes from COVID-19. Among frontline workers during the pandemic, those who said they ate plant-based diets or plant-based/pescatarian diets, had, respectively, 73 percent and 59 percent lower odds of moderate to severe COVID-19 infection, compared with those who didn’t have these dietary patterns.

Leaning towards a blue zone diet

When changing your diet, it’s always best to start with small changes. That way, you’re more likely to stick with it and less likely to have your body “rebel” against the change.

So, instead of eliminating all meat, try adding more vegetables and fatty fish into your daily diet.

Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts pack the most punch in terms of preventing hypertension, heart disease and stroke. Why not add them in as an afternoon snack with some yogurt dressing as a dip? They’ll fill you up, too!

The pesco-Mediterranean diet, also considered a blue zone diet, is considered the ultimate heart-healthy diet. Considering COVID’s impact on the heart, blood vessels and clots, it’s a good place to start.

And, like the Okinawans, don’t forget to add in healthful herbs like ginger and turmeric — powerful inflammation fighters.

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Sources:

New commentary in European Journal of Clinical Nutrition makes case for adopting ‘blue zone’ diet to stave off COVID-19 — Eureka Alert

Can a plant-based diet help mitigate Covid-19? — European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.