Plant-based diets and COVID-19

According to a new study¹, published in the BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, following a plant-based diet may reduce the severity of COVID-19.

Researchers investigated the link between disease and different dietary patterns, surveying 2,884 health care workers, from six countries, with ‘substantial exposure’ to COVID-19. Participants were asked to complete an online survey for a period of two months – providing information on demographic characteristics, dietary information, and COVID-19 outcomes.

The survey revealed that those participants who followed a plant-based diet had a 73% lower chance of experiencing moderate to severe COVID-19 illness. In contrast, those following a diet that was low in carbohydrates and high in protein were 48% more likely to experience moderate to severe COVID-19 illness.

Intake of legumes, nuts, and vegetables was higher among those following plant-based diets. These foods contain fibre and vitamins A, C and E, which support the immune system and overall health.

In response to their findings, the authors of the study recommend a plant-based diet that avoids pro-inflammatory foods, such as red and processed meat - which are associated with negative health outcomes - to help lessen the severity of COVID-19.

¹ Kim H, Rebholz CM, Hegde S, et al. Plant-based diets, pescatarian diets and COVID-19 severity: a population-based case–control study in six countries. BMJ Nutr Prev Health. Published online June 7, 2021. doi: 10.1136/bmjnph-2021-000272