Covid-19: New study highlights potential role of diet

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SOME research has indicated that this may have to do with a person’s diet, and a new six-country study involving people working on the front lines of Covid-19 care provides striking new evidence.

Healthcare professionals eating a plant-based diet were 73% less likely to experience moderate to severe Covid-19, and those following a plant- or fish-based diet were 59% less likely to get seriously ill.

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.”

Stay informed with live updates on the current Covid-19 outbreak and visit our coronavirus hub for more advice on prevention and treatment. The study appears in the journal BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health.

The researchers surveyed 2,884 doctors and nurses whose work with patients exposed them to SARS-CoV-2.

The participants were from the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France, and Germany. The survey was designed to reveal “the association between self-reported diets and Covid-19 infection, severity, and duration of symptoms.”

Of the entire group, 2,316 of the participants had not experienced any Covid-19 symptoms or tested positive for the virus. These individuals served as the study’s control group.

The remaining 568 individuals either had symptoms consistent with Covid-19 or a positive swab test. Of these, 138 people reported moderate to severe Covid-19. The rest had only mild or very mild cases of the illness.

In their analysis, the researchers factored in age, ethnicity, medical profession, weight, body mass index, comorbidities, and lifestyle behaviors, including smoking and level of physical activity.

The researchers asked the participants to choose a diet from among 11 selections that most closely resembled their own for the last year. The researchers then created dietary patterns by combining participants’ choices into groupings, such as whole food, plant-based diets; vegetarian diets; or pescatarian diets.

Compared with those following plant-based diets, people who reported eating a low carb, high protein diet were four times more likely to develop moderate to severe Covid-19 symptoms.