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Veganism Lowers Covid 19 risk ???

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Can veganism really lower a person's COVID-19 risk?

What to know about COVID-19 and a plant-based diet

A vegan or plant-based diet cannot prevent a person from developing COVID-19, but it may help support a healthy immune system. This in turn could aid in SARS-CoV-2 infection prevention and lower the risk of severe symptoms.

People should note, that there is no direct evidence to support a link between a plant-based or vegan diet and protection from COVID-19 or other severe diseases.

That said, plant-based diets can also decrease a person’s risk of obesity and chronic diseases. These are conditions that tend to worsen the outcome of COVID-19.

This article explores plant-based diets and their health benefits in relation to COVID-19 and otherwise. It also looks at how a vegan diet could decrease the risk factors for more severe effects of COVID-19.

Can a plant-based diet lower COVID-19 risk?

There is no specific diet that lowers a person’s risk of developing COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advise people eat a balanced diet to strengthen their immune systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes eating fresh, unprocessed foods, such as vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.

The WHO also recommend avoiding consumption of sugar fat, and salt, and limiting red meat consumption to 1–2 times a week, and poultry to 2–3 times per week. They also suggest consuming no more than 160g of meat and beans daily.

According to research Trusted Source, a plant-based diet has health benefits for weight, energy metabolism, and systemic inflammation. These beneficial effects could support a healthy immune system and lower a person’s risk of severe impacts of COVID-19.

That said, it is important to note that eating a plant-based diet and identifying as a vegan are not, strictly speaking, the same. The term “plant-based” refers only to diet, while veganism incorporates other factors.

People who identify as vegans object to exploiting or killing animals for food, clothing, or any other reason. However, some people who identify as vegans may eat mainly processed foods, which in itself as a dietary plan is not beneficial to health.

By contrast, people who follow a plant-based diet eat mainly or exclusively plant foods. People may have a diet that consists solely or predominantly of freshly prepared whole foods. They may choose this approach for health, environmental, or ethical reasons.

It is of note that a plant-based diet does not necessarily lead to an improved immune system. A person can follow a plant-based diet and have poor health due to consuming far too many processed foods, plant-based alternatives, and plant fats.

If a person eats mainly processed foods and few vegetables and fruits and does not supplement essential nutrients, such as vitamin B12, they may counteract the potential benefits of a plant-based diet.

Benefits of a plant-based diet vs. COVID-19

In the sections below, we discuss some of the health benefits of plant-based diets and how following them may impact the risk of developing COVID-19.

More vitamins and minerals

A review in the British Journal of Nutrition suggests that people with optimal levels of micronutrients may be more resilient to COVID-19.

Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that people obtain from their diet. Human bodies also produce vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight.

Plant foods contain many vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy immune system, such as zinc, selenium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Selenium is a trace mineral that benefits immune system health and cognitive function.

However, according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source, only one in 10 adults in the United States eat enough fruits or vegetables.

By switching to a plant-based diet that includes a wide variety of fruits and vegetables or eating more plant-based foods, people will increase their intake of essential minerals and vitamins that support the immune system. This in turn may increase people’s resilience to COVID-19.

Learn more about anti-inflammatory foods here.

Increased antioxidants and polyphenols

Healthy vegan diets that include a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. These are compounds that fight free radicals and help counteract oxidative stress.

Some vitamins and minerals, as well as plant compounds such as polyphenols, act as antioxidants. Polyphenols are present in berries, olives, and nuts, among other foods.

According to a 2021 review, studies are currently underway to test whether polyphenols could potentially help prevent or treat viral infections, such as infections with SARS-CoV-2. However, at present, there is no evidence of this.

The authors explain that as people age, their immune system is less able to combat infections. The researchers refer to this immunological aging as immunosenescence. Polyphenols can counteract the senescence process and reduce inflammation.

Another review Trusted Source notes that excessive oxidative stress may be responsible for the lung damage, thrombosis, and red blood cell dysregulation that occurs in some people with COVID-19.

The authors of the review suggest that antioxidants could have therapeutic effects. Therefore, a plant-based diet rich in antioxidants and polyphenols may help protect against COVID-19.

Learn more about some of the top foods high in antioxidants here.

Support for a healthy gut microbiome

According to some research, SARS-CoV-2 alters the gut microbiota, and probiotics and prebiotics may improve the immune function in people with a SARS-CoV-2 infection.

The fibre in plant foods provides prebiotics to feed gut bacteria. Research Trusted Source shows that plant-based diets influence the gut microbiome favourably, increasing bacterial diversity and potentially reducing inflammation.

According to a 2020 review, a plant-based fibre-rich diet may have protected COVID-19 patients in India. The authors suggest that plant-based foods are likely to boost a gut microbiota capable of triggering an anti-inflammatory response.

Decreased obesity and comorbidities

Eating a plant-based diet may help people avoid having obesity and other health conditions that could worsen their experience of COVID-19 if they develop it.

Research Trusted Source suggests that a SARS-CoV-2 infection results in increased hospitalization rates and greater severity of illness in people with diabetes or obesity.

According to a 2020 study Trusted Source, obesity was the most commonly reported underlying medical condition — 72.5% — in healthcare personnel hospitalized for COVID-19 in the United States.

Authors of a 2016 analysis Trusted Source indicate that plant-based diets could decrease inflammation and risk of chronic disease in people who have obesity.

A 2019 review Trusted Source notes a plant-based diet may help prevent the development of overweight, obesity, and diabetes. Research Trusted Source also supports the diet’s cardiovascular benefits.





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