The best way to prevent getting COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and now researchers have also found that eating a certain way can not just reduce the severity of your illness, but possibly stave off the virus altogether. This is no vaccine replacement, but it is eye-opening research.
"Research teams at ZOE, Harvard Medical School, and King's College London have found that people who eat a high-quality plant-rich diet are less likely to catch COVID-19 or become severely ill, while those eating the least nutritious foods are more at risk, especially if they live in poorer areas," according to the report.
"Based on what we know about nutrients and foods, the higher quality diet might reduce your severity of COVID, but this is the first study ever to show that actually reduces your chances of having COVID," said Dr. Sarah Berry, who joined Professor Tim Spector, Emily Leeming RD from Kings College London and Professor Andrew Chan from Harvard, in a webinar, to discuss the latest findings from Spector's ZOE Report.
"And I think that the level of the change in risk as well, considering that we've just had for all of these other dietary related factors as well, it is really quite prominent."
Eat a Plant-Based Diet With Few Processed Foods, Says Study
There was a study "that was published last week, looking at the effects of different types of diets, so different dietary patterns," said Berry, referring to a previous study in The BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health.
"So whether someone's on a keto diet or a plant-based diet and looking at how they looked at how that was associated with people's severity, once they had COVID. And what they found in that research is that people that were following a plant-based diet had a low severity of COVID. what we've also found with our research. It also minimizes your chances of getting COVID if you're following a plant-based diet. And the reason we know this is the face specific score that we used in our research was the HPDI score, which is a healthy plant directly index score. And this is a score that was developed quite recently by the group at Harvard, which looks at the quality of plant-based foods in someone's diet….And what we found was that using this HPDI, this is where we saw this reduction in risk and this reduction in severity as well."
"So I think a really important message to people is yes, we should all be trying to improve our diet, but it doesn't mean you have to go wild," said Berry. "You don't have to go crazy and deny yourself of everything as long as we're including as much plant-based healthy unprocessed foods as possible. That's enough to be able to get to the level of which we see this plateau."
The Results are Significant, a Landmark Study, Says Harvard Professor
How did they get these results? "This was a diet and lifestyle questionnaire that was implemented into the COVID symptom study app," said Leeming, "and it consisted of three key elements. It consisted of a diet quality questionnaire. It consisted of a diet habits questionnaire and a lifestyle questionnaire. And this was asked of all of our users, and we were really fortunate that we had 1.1 million people respond to this questionnaire."
"This was really a landmark study in many ways, because so many of the patients that we see asked this question: 'What is it that I can eat that will really affect my risk of COVID-19?'" said Chan.
"Cause I think we've all struggled with, you know, what is it I can do personally to really minimize my individual chance of getting COVID? So when we did this study, that was really the question we wanted to tackle. And we found that people with the highest quality diet, those that ate healthy plant-based foods were about 10% less likely to develop COVID-19 compared with those that had the worst quality diet and even more impressively though, they were 40% less likely to get severe COVID-19 disease and go to the hospital."
So eat that plant-based diet, get vaccinated when it becomes available to you, and to protect your life and the lives of others.