A new study confirms: people who favor a plant-based diet are much less likely to catch the Covid virus. A good reason to become vegan?
Swapping an omnivorous diet for a vegetarian or vegan diet could well protect you from viruses and more specifically from Covid. In any case, this is the discovery of a Brazilian observational study published this January.
39% chance of catching covid in months
Scientists from the University of São Paulo analyzed data from 702 people, who were questioned about their daily exercise habits, eating habits and medical history, including their Covid vaccination status. The volunteers were then divided into omnivorous (424) or predominantly plant-based (278) dietary groups. Over a six-month follow-up, almost half of all volunteers (47%) reported having contracted Covid.
- Of these, just under a third experienced mild symptoms, and 15% experienced moderate to severe symptoms;
- A higher proportion of omnivores reported contracting Covid (52%) than their plant counterparts (40%);
- After accounting for influencing factors including weight, pre-existing health conditions and physical activity level, researchers found that people following a plant-based diet were 39% less likely to be infected than omnivores.
An immune system strengthened by plants?
For researchers, the reason for this difference is undoubtedly linked to the composition of vegetarians’ plates: plant-based diets provide more nutrients that strengthen the immune system and help fight viral infections.
“Plant-based diets are rich in antioxidants, phytosterols et polyphenolswhich positively affect several cell types involved in immune function and exhibit direct antiviral properties” they explain. However, research “more rigorous and high quality” must be carried out before drawing definitive conclusions on its impact on Covid, the study being only observational to date.
The worst habits of meat eaters also count
Plant nutrients would not be the only reason for this “protection” against Covid. It can also be assumed today that meat eaters are more likely to exercise less and suffer from illnesses such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, suggesting that they led a less healthy lifestyle. Being overweight or having an underlying illness can in fact increase the risk of being hospitalized or dying from Covid.
Either way, putting more “plant-based” foods into your diet seems like a good decision for your overall health.