Eating plant-based appears to reduce the severity and duration of COVID-19 symptoms, according to a new study published in the MHJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health Journal. In the first study to ever look at the connection between diet and COVID-19 outcomes, the researchers analyzed the data of 2,300 healthcare workers from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, USA) and found that a plant-based diet correlated to individuals' reaction to the virus.

Health care workers following a plant-based had 73 percent lower odds of moderate to severe cases, while those following a pescatarian diet experienced a 59 percent lower odds of moderate-to-severe symptoms. So essentially plant-based diets were most protective and eating fish only slightly reduced this benefit, but both fared better than those eating more meat in their diets.

A plant-based diet was most effective in reducing symptoms to mild or very mild

The survey discovered that out of 568 positive cases in all, 138 participants reported moderate-to-severe symptoms, while 30 individuals experienced very mild to mild symptoms. The participants who reported moderate-to-severe COVID-19 symptoms were more likely to be eating a ‘low carbohydrate, high protein diet,’ typically associated with more meat consumption.

Researchers and experts have stated in the past that they believe plant-based eating helps immunity since it helps to reduce inflammation and all major markers of disease.

Doctors have been touting the benefits of eating plant-based since the start of the pandemic and telling their patients to do so as well. Studies of the benefits of eating more plant-based and less meat, dairy, and animal products include lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and certain cancers. These co-morbidities also have an impact on the severity of symptoms and the long-term health effects that COVID-19 has on an infected individual. The level of severity of infection from COVID-19 is often linked to the general health of the person exposed.

New variants of COVID-19 are gaining, so staying healthy remains a priority

Even as more Americans are getting vaccinated, the variant virus strains called Alpha (out of Britain), Beta (South Africa), and Delta (India) are sweeping the globe. Now Alpha is the most prevalent type of coronavirus infection in the US, since arriving here and spreading since April, according to a report in The New York Times. These variants are both more contagious and stealthy, able to slip by the first line of our immune defenses, according to news reports.

“Conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, cancer, kidney disease, and COPD are the main underlying causes making COVID-19 more likely to result in a severe, life-threatening disease,” VIVA states. “A vegan diet can help you lose weight, reverse diabetes, lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. This reduces your risk of severe COVID-19.”

The esteemed plant-based medic Dr. Michael Greger warns that unhealthy, meat-heavy diets can worsen general health and therefore the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. He continues to argue that plant-based diets can be linked to higher rates of immunity, similar to what was found in the most recent research report.

“One of the reasons why the U.S. now has the highest number of deaths compared to any other country in the world is because of pre-existing conditions,” Dr. Greger said. “Obesity, T2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension...Every single one of them can not just be prevented and stopped but reversed with a healthy enough plant-based diet. Obesity is increasing the risk of a severe course of COVID-19 by six-seven times. That’s for a BMI over 28. That’s not even obese, that’s just overweight.”

When fighting off disease, both Dr. Greger and the report emphasize how dietary and nutritional health is essential to upkeeping immunity. The Beet compiled a list of plant-based foods that boost immunity and help the body fight off diseases like COVID-19. Beyond immunity, plant-based foods will help improve overall health to prevent other diseases and health conditions.

Bottom Line: A plant-based diet lowers COVID-19 severity. Eat more plant-based to lower the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, and also reduce your risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and certain cancers.

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