Can a plant-based diet be of benefit in the fight against Covid-19?

Well of course it can, can’t it? It’s obvious… all those wonderful antioxidants from minimally-processed fruit and veg in the healthy vegan diet, powering up our immune systems and giving the body everything it needs to fight infection. But hold on one second… It might sound obvious, but can it actually be proven? Turns out it can.

There’s so much speculation involved in Covid-19 and we might anticipate, as healthy people on a high antioxidant living foods/minimally processed diet, that we therefore should be immune, or at least partially immune, to every bacterium or virus that comes our way. Speaking as someone who never gets the common cold or flu, even when everyone around me is dropping like flies, my assumption was for sure that it had everything to do with my diet and supplementation regime and my robust immune system. But as the saying goes, “one swallow doesn’t make a summer”, and any scientific researcher will tell you that using only oneself as a test subject doesn’t prove anything. For a study to stack scientifically, you need to test hundreds, and ideally thousands of people, to avoid the spanner in the works of potential outliers like me.

I am delighted to say that this research finally does exist, and has been published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Hana Kahleova, the lead author, states that overweight people have lower protection following Covid vaccination, as do smokers, diabetics and those with elevated blood pressure or high cholesterol. Mostly, as we’ve already heard, it’s those who have other health problems that tend to die from Covid-19. In 2021, a study following 600,000 people who had high intake of fruit and vegetables, indicated a 43% reduction in the severity of Covid.

The most recent study published in January 2022, which involved approximately 3000 health workers from 6 countries, who ate a fully plant-based diet, decreased their risk of moderate to severe Covid by 73%. That’s massive! In the Blue Zones, where those who have the healthiest and longest lives on the planet reside, one would anticipate that the Covid death rate would be lower. This certainly appears to be the case. Comparisons have been made, for example, between Okinawans (one of the Blue Zones) and those living in Tokyo. In Okinawa, which is, after all, part of Japan, Covid mortality is 16 times lower. Now we can’t just put this down to the healthy diet of the Okinawans. The population density in Tokyo is way higher, those who live there are almost invariably going to be more stressed (stress negatively impacts the immune system after all), and there are many more smokers in Tokyo. But the fact remains that the average age of the population of Okinawa is higher, but they are nonetheless healthier.

What is starting to occur in Okinawa, sadly, is that the younger generations are starting to experience degenerative disease as a result of not following the traditional diet of their elders. The USA has a big influence in Okinawa as a result of the presence of their military bases, so the younger residents who have succumbed to the Western diet are significantly less healthy than their parents, which is a tragedy.

Diabetes is a huge co-morbidity for Covid, and diabetics are much more likely to get severe disease from infection. High blood sugar levels suppress the immune system, and a plant-based diet is well-known to reverse Type 2 diabetes, which is a lifestyle disease. People are not often dying from the Covid virus itself, but from the inflammation which the virus causes. A plant-based diet is anti-inflammatory, as long as it’s a whole-foods, minimally processed plant-based diet (after all, chips are vegan and pizza can be, but that doesn’t mean they are healthy!). The antioxidants in the whole-foods, plant-based diet and, even better, the living foods diet are having such a massively positive impact on people’s health that it’s impossible to ignore. Whilst there will always be those who want to continue burying their head in the sand and believing their own ingrained dogma that the Western diet is best and that there’s nothing wrong with, for example, keto, it’s time for a shift.

High antioxidant diets are beneficial for everyone, and that means eating (and of course juicing) your greens. And eating low-glycaemic fruit. And sprouted foods, and superfoods. And seaweed. Yes, seaweed. If you’re interested in how I get my 70 a day (yes, I really do eat 70 fruit and veg per day!), please see my separate blog post on the subject here.

Will a living foods diet eliminate your risk of ever succumbing to Covid? I can’t guarantee that. But the research is clear. If you happen to get it, it won’t be as severe. Which can only be a good thing.

About Max Tuck

Hippocrates Health Educator. Long term living foods vegan. Athlete, lecturer, author of four books (with the 5th coming soon) and firm advocate of healthy living.
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