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How a Plant based diet helped our doctors with Covid 19

For some people, COVID-19 is a life threatening illness, while for others, it is little more than a short-term annoyance. To some extent, this is a function of an individual’s comorbidities. However, why SARS-CoV-2 manifests so differently in different people remains a mystery.

The study’s authors write, “Our results suggest that a healthy diet rich in nutrient-dense foods may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19.”

Healthcare workers (HCWs) from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, USA) with substantial exposure to COVID-19 patients completed a web-based survey from 17 July to 25 September 2020.

Participants provided information on demographic characteristics, dietary information, and COVID-19 outcomes. They used multivariable logistic regression models to evaluate the association between self-reported diets and COVID-19 infection, severity, and duration.

There were 568 COVID-19 cases and 2316 controls. Among the 568 cases, 138 individuals had moderate-to-severe COVID-19 severity whereas 430 individuals had very mild to mild COVID-19 severity.

After adjusting for important confounders, participants who reported following ‘plant-based diets’ and ‘plant-based diets or pescatarian diets’ had 73% and 59% lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 severity, respectively, compared with participants who did not follow these diets.

Compared with participants who reported following ‘plant-based diets’, those who reported following ‘low carbohydrate, high protein diets’ had greater odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 . No association was observed between selfreported diets and COVID-19 infection or duration.

Conclusion In six countries, plant-based diets or pescatarian diets were associated with lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

But plant-based diets are rich in nutrients, especially phytochemicals (polyphenols, carotenoids), vitamins and minerals, all of which are important for a healthy immune system, say the researchers.

And fish is an important source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which have antiinflammatory properties, they add.

“Our results suggest that a healthy diet rich in nutrient dense foods may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19,” they conclude.

“The trends in this study are limited by study size (small numbers with a confirmed positive test) and design (self-reporting on diet and symptoms) so caution is needed in the interpretation of the findings,” comments Deputy Chair of the NNEdPro Nutrition and COVID-19 Taskforce, Shane McAuliffe.

“However, a high quality diet is important for mounting an adequate immune response, which in turn can influence susceptibility to infection and its severity."

He adds:“This study highlights the need for better designed prospective studies on the association between diet, nutritional status and COVID-19 outcomes.

These dietary patterns may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19.

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Understanding the study’s conclusions

While the study establishes a correlation between these diets and the severity of COVID-19, it does not establish causality. There might be such a strong link between these diets and COVID-19 severity:

A plant-based and pescatarian patterns are also associated with reductions of anti-inflammatory markers.

The study suggests the nutrients in a plant-based diet that might be helping people with COVID-19 are phytochemicals, such as polyphenols and carotenoids, and minerals and vitamins, all of which support healthy immune systems. Pescatarians get beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D — all anti-inflammatory substances — from fish.

The findings may be more broadly applicable than simply to COVID-19.

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Benefits of a plant-based diet vs. COVID-19 More vitamins and minerals A review in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that people with optimal levels of micronutrients may be more resilient to COVID-19.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that people obtain from their diet. Human bodies also produce vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight.

Plant foods contain many vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy immune system, such as zinc, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Selenium is a trace mineral that benefits immune system health and cognitive function.

However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, only one in 10 adults in the United States eat enough fruits or vegetables.

By switching to a plant-based diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables or eating more plant-based foods, people will increase their intake of essential minerals and vitamins that support the immune system. This in turn may increase people’s resilience to COVID-19. Increased antioxidants and polyphenols Healthy vegan diets that include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. These are compounds that fight free radicals and help counteract oxidative stress.

Some vitamins and minerals, as well as plant compounds such as polyphenols, act as antioxidants. Polyphenols are present in berries, olives, and nuts, among other foods.

According to a 2021 review, studies are currently underway to test whether polyphenols could potentially help prevent or treat viral infections, such as infections with SARS-CoV-2. However, at present, there is no evidence of this.

The authors explain that as people age, their immune system is less able to combat infections. The researchers refer to this immunological aging as immunosenescence. Polyphenols can counteract the senescence process and reduce inflammation.

Support for a healthy gut microbiome According to some research, SARS-CoV-2 alters the gut microbiota, and probiotics and prebiotics may improve the immune function in people with a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The fiber in plant foods provides prebiotics to feed gut bacteria. ResearchTrusted Source shows that plant-based diets influence the gut microbiome favorably, increasing bacterial diversity and potentially reducing inflammation.

According to a 2020 review, a plant-based fiber-rich diet may have protected COVID-19 patients in India. The authors suggest that plant-based foods are likely to boost a gut microbiota capable of triggering an anti-inflammatory response.

Decreased obesity and comorbidities Eating a plant-based diet may help people avoid having obesity and other health conditions that could worsen their experience of COVID-19 if they develop it. ResearchTrusted Source suggests that a SARS-CoV-2 infection results in increased hospitalization rates and greater severity of illness in people with diabetes or obesity.

According to a 2020 studyTrusted Source, obesity was the most commonly reported underlying medical condition — 72.5% — in healthcare personnel hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States.

Authors of a 2016 analysisTrusted Source indicate that plant-based diets could decrease inflammation and risk of chronic disease in people who have obesity.

A 2019 reviewTrusted Source notes a plant-based diet may help prevent the development of overweight, obesity, and diabetes. ResearchTrusted Source also supports the diet’s cardiovascular benefits.

Other benefits of a vegan diet According to a large 2018 studyTrusted Source, there is a link between healthy plant-based diet and a lower risk of all-cause mortality in adults in the U.S.

Moreover, other studies indicate that people who eat plant-based diets may have a lower risk of breast cancerTrusted Source, hypertensionTrusted Source, and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Evidence also suggests that plant-based diets adequately support a person’s exercise and athletic performance.

How to switch to a vegan diet

People wishing to switch to a vegan diet should ensure that they eat fresh whole foods and avoid processed foods and “vegan junk food.”

People will benefit most from choosing fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and

healthy fats and protein sources.

Including a wide variety of plant foods and “eating a rainbow” allows people on a plant-based diet to get all the nutrients they need.

People can find numerous resources and recipes online to plan their plant-based meals. They may also consult an expert on the subject.

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