Multiple studies have indicated that diet and specific nutrients can impact the outcome of COVID-19, including the severity and risk of death from the disease.
Now there’s even more proof that our food choices matter if we want to beat back the virus — and it came straight from the front lines…
Researchers gathered data from doctors and nurses with extensive exposure to SARS-CO-v2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and found that depending on whether you choose high protein, low carbs, more plant foods or fish — your risk of a moderate to severe infection from COVID could be lowered as much as 73 percent.
Veggie and fish eaters win over low-carb/high-protein lovers
The findings, published in the online journal BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health, drew on the survey responses of 2,884 frontline doctors and nurses.
The researchers delved into each participant’s dietary patterns, based on a 47-item food frequency questionnaire, over the previous year. Then they compared the severity of any COVID-19 infections they had suffered to the foods they regularly ate.
Diets were classified as either:
- Plant-based (higher in vegetables, legumes, and nuts, and much lower in poultry and red and processed meats)
- Pescatarian/plant-based (the same as above, but with added fish and seafood)
- Low-carb/high-protein diets
And what it all came down to was this…
After factoring in several potentially influential variables, including age, ethnicity, medical specialty, and lifestyle (smoking, physical activity), respondents 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.
In fact, in a head-to-head battle, people who ate a low carb-high protein diet had nearly four times the odds of moderate to severe COVID-19 infection compared to veggie and fish eaters.
And these results held no matter if they had obesity that increased their risk of severe COVID or another medical condition that makes the chance of a bad infection (and bad outcomes) worse.
Reducing inflammation for a healthy immune system
So, why does eating more plant-based foods and fish appear to reduce COVID risks?
Well, according to the researchers, plant-based diets are rich in nutrients, especially phytochemicals (polyphenols, carotenoids), vitamins and minerals, all of which are important for a healthy immune system.
And fish is an important source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties, they add. Remember the phenomenon that erupted during the height of the pandemic that we now know as a “cytokine storm.” Yep, that’s inflammation to the extreme.
“Our results suggest that a healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19,” they conclude.
Since reducing inflammation ups your immune system, adding more fish to your diet is a no-brainer — especially since we already mentioned the results of studies that have proven more omega-3s equals a better chance of survival.
Plant foods are also more alkaline and there have been reported benefits from following an alkaline diet, according to my colleague Margaret Cantwell. One being an increase in intracellular magnesium, which is required for the function of many enzyme systems. Available magnesium, which is required to activate vitamin D, would result in numerous added benefits in the vitamin D apocrine/exocrine systems.
As a bonus, going plant-based can also give your metabolism a kick in the pants for healthy fat burn. This could help you defeat obesity – another risk factor for severe Covid, even if you’ve been vaccinated.
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