- A healthy diet could ensure that you have a low risk of Covid-19 infection – and a severe course.
- This was the result of a pre-printed study by researchers at Harvard University and King’s College London.
- People whose diet was high in vegetables, nuts and fish showed a lower risk of becoming infected or of developing the disease more seriously.
A comprehensive new study found that a healthy, high-quality diet can lower the risk of Covid-19 – or can lead to a less severe course of the disease if an infection occurs. The lowest risk in this context was found in people whose diet consisted of plenty of vegetables and lots of fish.
For their study, researchers from Harvard University, King’s College London and the research company ZOE examined data from a total of 592,571 adults in Great Britain and the USA who took part in the so-called Covid-19 symptom study. For the study, the participants were first asked to independently assess and state their Covid 19 symptoms. In a second step, the subjects were asked about their eating habits.
The respective data were then evaluated by the research team. It found that people who ate the healthiest diets had a ten percent lower chance of contracting the coronavirus. A predominantly Mediterranean cuisine with lots of vegetables, grains, nuts, fish and healthy fats such as olive oil achieved the best results in this context. The collected data was published as a preprint in the document server Medrxiv. Finally, they have to be scientifically assessed.
In addition to the lower risk of getting sick at all, the participants who ate particularly well also had a 40 percent lower probability of suffering a serious illness. This was true even if additional factors were taken into account, such as wearing masks, physical activity and socio-economic conditions. However, people who live in poorer areas have been most affected by the health risks of inadequate nutrition.
Plant-based and Mediterranean diet classified as particularly “high quality”
The researchers rated the quality of the diet based on previous research on healthy plant-based diets and the UK dietary guidelines. According to the study, the healthiest diets included nutritious whole foods, lots of plant-based ingredients, and barely processed foods. This includes, above all, the plant-based and Pescetarian diet as well as the Mediterranean one.
Research has shown that the Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest of all. The researchers found that people who followed a Mediterranean diet tended to have healthier gut microbiomes. This is made up of beneficial bacteria that are responsible for the digestive system. Research has shown that these microbes are linked to many health benefits, including lower risk of inflammation and better blood sugar control. It is crucial that a healthy gut microbiome is also associated with a lower risk of diseases such as corona infection.
In contrast, a diet is classified as unhealthy if it contains more animal products and processed foods like juice, potato chips, french fries, refined grains, and added sugars.
Prosperity and exercise also play an important role in the risk of COVID-19
What people eat is closely related to their health. But the diet depends on many different factors, such as where you live and your income. In this study, participants with higher quality diets were able to exercise regularly and live in an area that is associated with more socio-economic benefits. However, wealthier people also had a generally lower risk of developing Covid-19, regardless of their diet. People who came from poorer regions and had an unhealthy diet were 25 percent more likely to contract Covid-19 than wealthy people with similar eating habits.
This article was translated from English and edited by Julia Knopf. You can read the original here.