In the past year, there have been a number of things we started doing to lessen our chance of catching COVID. These include limiting our social bubbles, wearing masks, washing our hands, sanitizing surfaces and social distancing.
But what we don’t hear a lot about from our health authorities and governments is the value of exercise and nutrition.
We’ve written previously here about the benefits of exercise as it relates to COVID. Sleep has always been known to be highly correlated with how effectively our immune system functions. And now new research is showing that healthy eating plays a huge role as it relates to the coronavirus.
A joint study between King’s College in the UK and Harvard University looked at the nutritional habits of 600, 000 participants during the pandemic. The study had participants fill out questionnaires about the quality of their nutrition, whether the contracted COVID, and if so, what their symptoms were like.
The investigators defined higher quality nutrition as that which includes eating larger amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, oily fish and fewer processed foods and refined carbohydrates.
Study subjects that ate a higher quality diet were 10% less likely to catch COVID compared to those eating the lowest quality nutrition. Of all 600,000 involved in the study almost 19% contracted COVID. As well, those eating higher quality nutrition were 40% less likely to become severely ill. Lastly, consuming a high quality diet was associated with healthier and more diverse bacteria microbes in the gut, lower inflammation, lower body fat and improved blood fat and blood sugar.
Researchers aren’t sure what accounted for the difference in lower risk and lessor symptoms when eating a higher quality diet. They speculate that it is related to the level of inflammation in the body and this may play a key role in preventing and minimizing the effects of COVID.
Many of the measures recommended by our health authorities should be practiced and continue to be a part of our daily habits. But we shouldn’t overlook the positive impact diet and exercise play with keeping us healthy. And while the definition of higher quality nutrition did not mention meat, there is no need to remove this from the diet in order to experience the benefits listed so long as the other features, i.e. more fruits and vegetables, are incorporated into the plan.