We’ve been getting a lot of questions about following a plant-based diet and COVID. There are some things a plant-based diet can do it and something it can’t. It turns out that a plant-based diet can significantly reduce the severity of COVID.
In one study, looking at doctors and nurses, a plant-based diet reduced the chance of getting a severe or moderate case by 73%, which we think is saying a lot. Compare this to those individuals following “low carbohydrate, high protein diets” such as Atkins and others, which are typically high in food that comes from animals, who had an almost 4 times greater risk of moderate-to-severe COVID. Another study showed that among the elderly, those following a non vegetarian diet had 5 times the risk of having a severe case of COVID.
So what’s up with this? We think there are two things at work. A plant-based diet has been shown to reduce inflammation. Part of the damage COVID does is by inciting extreme inflammation. Studies have shown that those following a plant-based diet have a lower baseline level of inflammation. Second, people with chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure, have been shown to have worse outcomes when infected with the COVID virus. People who follow a plant-based diet have, on average, much lower rates of these diseases. Lower levels of baseline inflammation and lower rates of chronic disease combine to give vegetarians and vegans the edge.
Can a good diet prevent you from getting COVID in the first place? Here the effect of the plant-based diet is much less pronounced. One study showed only a 9% reduction in the risk of getting infected in the first place. Based on the evidence, vaccination is very strongly recommended for the general public.
While 9% isn’t much of a reduction, with a disease as widespread as COVID it can still make a difference in preventing illness. A 73% reduction in the risk of getting a severe or moderate case of COVID makes a huge difference in reducing suffering and saving lives.
Childhood asthma is a major and growing public health problem worldwide. Adults get asthma too. The western, meat-centered diet may partly explain the “asthma epidemic” in the United States.
Asthma is the most common chronic disease of childhood. The prevalence has been increasing at an alarming rate and has more than doubled in the last decade. Over 9 million children in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma. That’s a lot of children. There are few things more upsetting than a sick child.
Parkinson’s Disease is second only to Alzheimer’s as the most common human neurodegenerative disorder in the United States. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive disease of the nervous system that affects physical movements and over the years causes a progressive disability that can be slowed or even temporarily improved but not halted. So far no therapy has been proven to stop its progression.
Not surprisingly, diet is a major risk factor. The western, meat-centered diet, especially from meat fat, dairy and eggs, increases the risk of getting Parkinson’s, while plant fats do not increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease. In fact, consuming plant foods decreases the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease. There are two main processes where plant foods can help.
Getting COVID 19 makes it hard to breathe but at least it doesn’t affect many children, and a vaccine is being distributed. There’s no vaccine for asthma, but a plant-based diet helps those who suffer from asthma to breathe easier.
Childhood asthma continues to be a major public health problem worldwide. Adults get asthma too. The western, meat-centered diet, may partly explain the “asthma epidemic” in the United States.
What is asthma? Asthma is a disease in which your airways narrow and swell and may produce extra mucus and inflammation. This can make breathing difficult and trigger coughing, a whistling sound (wheezing) when you breathe out and shortness of breath. For some people, asthma is a minor nuisance. For others, it can be a major problem that interferes with daily activities and may lead to a life-threatening asthma attack.
Do your joints hurt? Maybe you have osteoarthritis? The good news is that a plant-based diet may be able to help.
Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, affecting millions of people worldwide. It occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. Although osteoarthritis can damage any joint, the disorder most commonly affects joints in your hands, knees, hips and spine. Osteoarthritis has often been referred to as a “wear and tear” disease. But besides the breakdown of cartilage, osteoarthritis affects the entire joint. It causes changes in the bone and deterioration of the connective tissues that hold the joint together and attach muscle to bone. It also causes inflammation of the joint lining.
Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), the other being Crohn’s disease. People who have it get bouts of severe inflammation and bleeding that goes along with it, on the inner lining of the colon. About 750,000 Americans have this disease. It’s incurable but it is treatable. Read more
Good news for those with this hard-to-treat disease. It turns out that a vegetarian diet is especially effective at both preventing and treating Crohn’s Disease.
Crohn’s disease affects as many as 780,000 Americans. It’s a chronic inflammatory disease of the gastrointestinal tract that usually affects the small and/or large intestine. The intestine becomes inflamed, sometimes resulting in dangerous blockages. It usually begins early in life. People with this disease experience periods of remission only to be followed by relapse. No-one knows what causes the disease, and currently there is no cure. Read more
Many people worry about getting cancer, but they don’t realize how much difference their food choices can make in whether they get cancer or not. When it comes to cancer, your diet can make all the difference.
The connection between the food we eat and cancer is anything but new. Scientists have long noticed the association with eating meat and cancer. For instance, Scientific American stated all the way back in January 1892 that “cancer is most frequent among those branches of the human race where carnivorous habits prevail.”
Studies have shown again and again that those following a plant-based diet have a lower risk of several kinds of cancer such as stomach, colon, prostate and pancreatic. Even smokers (and of course smoking is not recommended) can cut their risk of lung cancer by half if they eat a plant-food rich diet. Now, in the 21st century, scientists are discovering many of the ways plant foods help protect us from getting cancer. Read more