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Healthy diet halves risk of severe Covid

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A healthy diet can almost halve your chances of suffering a severe Covid infection—and can even help reduce your chances of getting the infection in the first place.

A diet that is rich in vegetables and fruits can on its own reduce the risk of a severe infection by 41 percent, and of any infection by 9 percent.

If people ate a healthy, plant-based diet, the number of Covid cases would have been cut by around a third.

A healthy diet is a third key factor in protecting against Covid, and is as important as mask wearing and vaccination, say researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital.

It’s the first time that the protective effects of healthy eating have been assessed on its own, the researchers say, although risk factors such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, both symptoms of a poor diet, have been measured.

The researchers analysed data collected from 592,000 people who were using a smartphone app, the Covid-19 Symptom Study.   During the nine months of the study, nearly 32,000 people in the group developed Covid, but those eating a plant-based diet, including vegans and vegetarians, were far less likely to suffer a severe infection that might need hospital care.

Governments and health agencies should be emphasising the importance of a healthy diet to help reduce Covid cases and to take pressure off hospitals, said researcher Jordi Merino.

(Source: Gut, 2021; gutjnl-2021-325353; doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-325353)

Article Topics: nutrition
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