Plant-based nutrition to protect against COVID-19?

In the case of COVID-19, diet also appears to have a significant influence on the course of the disease. According to a current study, the risk of severe COVID-19 courses is significantly reduced with a plant-based diet and a pescatarian diet (no meat, but fish)

Several studies had already hypothesized that eating habits in COVID-19 could play an important role in terms of the risk of infection, the severity of symptoms and the duration of the disease, reports the research team led by Dr. Hyunju Kim from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. In their current study, the researchers have now examined the connection between eating habits and COVID-19 in more detail. The relevant study results were published in the specialist magazine “BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health”.

Risk factors influenced by diet

Pre-existing conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure are considered risk factors for severe COVID-19 courses and they are usually also associated with an unhealthy diet. It was therefore suspected that diet could have a significant influence on the risk of infection and the course of COVID-19.

Relationships with nutrition examined

Using data from 2,884 health care workers from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Great Britain, USA), the research team looked for possible connections between certain dietary patterns and COVID-19. “We used multivariable logistic regression models to assess the association between self-reported diet and COVID-19 infection, severity and duration,” explain the researchers.

A total of 568 participants were sick with COVID-19 and 2,316 remained healthy. Of the 568 illnesses, 138 were moderate to severe, while 430 people had a very mild to mild course of COVID-19.

Protect plant-based nutrition and pescetarianism

After adjusting the data, it was shown that people who stated that they had a purely vegetable or pescatarian diet had a 73 percent lower risk of moderate to severe COVID-19 progression compared to participants who did not eat a vegetable diet, so the researchers. The risk of infection in general is not reduced by the plant-based diet, but only the severity of the disease.

“Understanding the associations between dietary patterns and COVID-19 could improve our overall understanding of the role of diet in viral diseases,” the researchers hope. A plant-based diet can already be considered for the prevention of severe COVID-19 courses. (fp)

Author and source information

This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.


  • Hyunju Kim, Casey M. Rebholz, Sheila Hegde, Christine LaFiura, Madhunika Raghavan, John F. Lloyd, Susan Cheng, Sara B. Seidelmann: Plant-based diets, pescatarian diets and COVID-19 severity: a population-based case–control study in six countries; in: BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health (veröffentlicht 07.06.2021),

Important NOTE:
This article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.