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Diet May Impact COVID-19 Severity

TUESDAY, June 8, 2021 -- Plant-based and/or fish diets may help lessen the severity of COVID-19 infection, according to a study published online June 7 in BMJ Nutrition Prevention & Health.

Hyunju Kim, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted a survey during July 17 to Sept. 25, 2020, among health care workers from six countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States) who had substantial exposure to COVID-19 patients. Associations between self-reported diets and COVID-19 infection, severity, and duration were evaluated.

The researchers identified 568 COVID-19 cases and 2,316 controls among the health care workers, with 138 individuals with moderate-to-severe COVID-19 cases and 430 with very mild-to-mild COVID-19 severity. Participants who reported following plant-based diets and those who reported following plant-based or pescatarian diets had lower odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 when adjusting for confounders (odds ratios, 0.27 and 0.41, respectively) compared with participants who did not follow these diets. Health care workers who reported following low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets had greater odds of moderate-to-severe COVID-19 (odds ratio, 3.86) compared with those who reported following plant-based diets. There were no associations noted between self-reported diets and COVID-19 infection or duration.

"Our results suggest that a healthy diet rich in nutrient dense foods may be considered for protection against severe COVID-19," the authors write.

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