People who follow predominantly plant-based diet including vegans, vegetarians and pescatarians are less likely to contract severe Covid-19, a new report revealed.
According a study published in The BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health, vegans and vegetarians are 73 per cent less likely to be become seriously ill with coronavirus while those who eat fish as their only source of meat were 59 per cent less likely to become ill than those who eat traditional white and red meat.
The study of 2,300 participants who didn't contract the virus and 568 people who did, examined data from healthcare workers across six countries including the UK. It consisted of a questionnaire examining the relationship between the respiratory disease and diet.
Among those who got infected, 138 reported moderate to severe symptoms of the illness, while 430 said their symptoms were mild and very mild.
Participants were asked about the diet they followed before the pandemic. There were 11 diets to choose from including 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.
Among those (568 respondents) who reported they had been ill only 41 said they had followed a plant-based diet while just 46 had become ill after pursuing a plant-based or pescatarian diet.
The researchers wrote: “In six countries, plant-based diets or pescatarian diets were associated with lower odds of moderate-to-severe Covid-19. These dietary patterns may be considered for protection against severe Covid-19. Plant-based diets or pescatarian diets are healthy dietary patterns, which may be considered for protection against severe Covid-19.”
Gunter Kuhnle, professor of nutrition and food science at the University of Reading indicates the number of limitations of the study.
He said: “Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been a lot of speculation about the impact of diet on disease risk. This study attempts to answer this question, but there are a number of limitations that need to be considered: The study relied entirely on self-reporting, and a lot of data have shown that self-reported dietary intake is unreliable.
“In this study, participants were asked about their diet after they were diagnosed with Covid-19, and this might lead to further misreporting, especially among participants who are interested in a potential link between diet and disease.
“Finally, the study has been conducted in different countries with widely different diets - a plant-based diet in Spain or Italy is likely to be different from a mainly plant-based diet in Germany or the UK.”