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Plant-based diet can guard against Covid

New research shows planet-friendly eating offers protection in the midst of the pandemic

Posted : 8 July 2021

Hands, face, space … no meat? Eating a plant-based diet is a surefire way to get healthy and reduce your environmental footprint, but it can also offer protection against the coronavirus.

According to a new study, vegetarians are 73 per cent less likely than meat eaters to come down with Covid-19. The research is based on online questionnaires completed by almost 3,000 doctors and nurses in six countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the US.

The 2,868 respondents filled in the surveys between July and September last year, and at that time 2,300 had not had Covid and 568 had. Of that latter group, 138 had experienced moderate to severe symptoms.

The questions were intended to establish what relationship, if any, there is between respiratory disease and diet, and those taking part were asked to choose what kind of diet best described their food intake in the year before the pandemic hit. The 11 choices were: whole foods, plant-based diet; keto diet; vegetarian diet; Mediterranean diet; pescatarian diet; Palaeolithic diet; low-fat diet; low-carbohydrate diet; high-protein diet; other; none of the above.

Of the 568 respondents who had been ill with Covid-19, 41 said they had been enjoying a plant-based diet, and just 46 said they had become ill after pursuing a plant-based or pescatarian diet. The researchers suggested that diets rich in nutrients, especially phytochemicals (polyphenols, carotenoids), vitamins and minerals, lead to a healthy immune system.

The US-led team of researchers concluded that a plant-based diet was “associated with lower odds of moderate to severe Covid-19″ and said: “Our results suggest that a healthy diet rich in nutrient dense foods may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19.”

With restrictions in England set to ease from July 19, and the rest of the UK after that, it’s good to know there is an extra way to guard against the coronavirus: remove your facemask and tuck into some delicious veggie and vegan grub.

Read the report

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