STAMFORD, CAN. – A study published online June 8 in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health found an association between eating plants and fish and a lower chance of COVID-19 infection. Those on a plant-based diet and those on a plant-based / pescatarian diet were 73% less likely or less likely to be.
The study involved researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, Stamford Hospital in Stamford, Connecticut, and Columbia University in New York.
The researchers conducted an online survey from July to September 2020 and collected responses from 2,884 doctors and nurses with “extensive” exposure to SARS-CO-v2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. The doctors and nurses, all part of the SurveyHealthcareGlobus healthcare market research network, have worked in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the UK and the US. The survey included a 47-item food frequency questionnaire and asked about the severity of COVID-19 infections that the doctors and nurses had experienced.
Of the 2,884 respondents, 568 said they had either symptoms related to COVID-19 infection or no symptoms but a positive swab test for COVID-19.
The plant-based diet was higher in vegetables, legumes and nuts and lower in poultry and red and processed meat. Adding fish and seafood to a plant-based diet made it a pescatarian / plant-based diet. Low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets were the third diet.
The researchers pointed out that a plant-based diet is rich in nutrients, especially phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, which are important for a healthy immune system. Fish is a source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties.
“Our results suggest that a healthy diet high in nutrient-rich foods can be considered as protection against severe COVID-19,” the researchers concluded.