A plant-based diet decreases the risk of severe Covid-19 and mortality, scientists say
Following a “healthful plant-based diet and lifestyle is a powerful tool which may delay the aging process, decrease age-associated comorbidities, and decrease the risk of severe Covid-19 and mortality”--as stated in a new commentary published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition states.
The authors, Hana Kahleova and Neal D. Barnard, Director of Clinical Research and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, analyzed the most recent studies on how people’s eating habits reflect on Covid infections. They concluded that a plant-based diet “represents the most cost-effective approach and should be largely promoted and incorporated in everyday practice” to mitigate Covid-19.
“Throughout the last years, we’ve been highlighting how a healthy plant-based diet can help people prevent and even treat certain diseases, such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or colorectal cancer,” says Fernanda Vieira, Food Policy and Animal Welfare Director at Sinergia Animal, an international NGO that encourages and supports people to adopt plant-based diets.
“What we are finding out now is that it’s a powerful way of fighting not only chronic diseases, but also the Covid-19 pandemic, which are two of the biggest public health challenges we currently face globally”, she continues.
The latest scientific discoveries
One of the most extensive studies conducted to date by researchers from Harvard and King’s College London showed that a healthy plant-based diet was associated with a 9% lower risk of Covid-19 infection and a 41% lower risk of severe Covid-19. Data from almost 600,000 people was analyzed for this research.
Another study, conducted by scientists at John Hopkins University—one of the most prestigious public health schools in the world—assessed health care workers who had substantial exposure to Covid-19 patients from six countries. The findings show a 73% lower risk of moderate-to-severe Covid-19 in the group that reported eating less meat and dairy and more fruits and vegetables.
The article also highlights the fact that the presence of chronic conditions, including obesity, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, is associated with higher Covid-19 death risk. “These conditions are strongly linked to one’s diet, and studies have shown that a plant-based diet is very effective in fighting every single one of them,” explains Vieira.
Some of the most striking evidence shows that “plant-based diets may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease events by an estimated 40% and the risk of cerebral vascular disease events by 29%”. The same research also points out that the risk of developing metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes decreases by about half.