National Nutrition Week: Can a Plant-Based Diet Help Lower Your Risk of Covid?


A recent study published by the online journal BMJ Nutrition – Prevention & Health showed that a plant-based and pescatarian (fish) diet could potentially reduce the risk of Covid infection. But to what extent does this apply to the world’s population?

Minal Shah, senior nutritional therapist at Fortis Hospital in Mulund, says it is important to first understand the different types of diets and how they affect our health.

“A vegetarian diet is a healthy diet that can lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure. There can be the occurrence of high blood pressure, including metabolic diseases Obesity and type 2 diabetes, and reduce the risk of dying from ischemic heart disease, ”she says.

What is a Pescatarian Diet?

According to the nutritional therapist, it is a vegetarian diet that includes fish or other aquatic animals. The word “pesce” means “fish” in Italian, and those who consume fish with it vegetable diet are called pesco-vegetarians or pescetarians.

“Meat-based diets are usually high in saturated fat and salt. Smoked and charred meat is also known to be carcinogenic (potentially carcinogenic). At the same time, eating a vegetarian diet that includes cheese, coconut, peanuts, or processed foods like burgers, fries, etc. as meals can be equally harmful and unhealthy, ”she warns.

Next are the pros and cons of the vegetarian and pescatarian diet:

Vegetarian: A vegetarian diet is relatively healthy when people consume a high proportion of plant-based foods. These are high in macronutrients, micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. It is also environmentally sustainable in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s about ensuring adequate amounts of protein, limiting your intake of fat and sugar, and avoiding processed foods and alcohol. With a vegetarian diet, Shah said it is important to identify the sources to ensure that important nutrients such as protein, zinc, omega-3 sources of fat, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and iron are being covered according to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) .

According to data, a Pescatarian diet has a strong protective effect against colon cancer. (Photo: Getty / Thinkstock)

Pescatarians: This diet is similar to a vegetarian diet with the addition of fish and seafood. Fish is an excellent source of protein with a good amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that eating two servings of fish a week may help reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce plaque in the arteries, which lowers the risk of irregular heartbeat. It can also lower triglycerides in the blood. According to data, a Pescatarian diet has a strong protective effect against colon cancer. The concern is the danger posed by heavy metals such as mercury. Skipping red meat can lower your iron intake. Diet can be expensive and difficult for people living outside of coastal areas.

But is there any connection with respiratory infections?

“Veganism itself does not reduce respiratory infections. It is a vegetarian diet high in protein and low in carbohydrates. A plant-based diet high in fruits and vegetables increases your intake of essential minerals and vitamins that support the immune system, which can increase people’s resistance to Covid, “says Shah.

She adds that SARS-CoV-2 alters the gut microbiota. and Probiotics and prebiotics can improve immune function in people with SARS-CoV-2 infection. “The fiber in plant-based foods provides the intestinal bacteria with prebiotics. A plant-based diet has a positive effect on the intestinal microbiome, increases bacterial diversity and possibly reduces inflammation. “

In the pandemic, everything we eat counts. The expert warns that it is important to remember that a vegan product does not necessarily have to mean health. That it is nevertheless advisable to check the nutrient density, vitamins, minerals, fats, added sugars of such products, etc.

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