How eating your five-a-day could save you from Covid: People who consume a lot of fruits and vegetables and cut out processed foods ‘are up to 40% less likely to get seriously ill from the virus’
- Scientists from King’s College London asked 600,000 people about their diet
- They were then monitored for nine months in case they contracted the virus
- Professor Tim Spector said eating vegetables ‘may improve your immune system’
Eating five a day could lower your risk of becoming seriously ill with Covid, scientists claimed today.
Experts from King’s College London asked 600,000 people to record what they ate before the pandemic started.
Volunteers were divided into five groups based on how healthy their diet was.
They were also followed for nine months and asked to tell researchers if they had contracted the coronavirus and log how sick they got.
The results showed that those who ate the most vegetables were 40 percent less likely to be hospitalized and need oxygen if they were contaminated.
And they were 10 percent less likely to contract the virus in the first place.
Eating a fruit-and-vegetable diet could reduce the risk of severe Covid, scientists claimed in a paper released today (stock image)
WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?
Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS
• Eat at least 5 servings of different fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruits and vegetables count
• Basic meals on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole wheat
• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-grain cereal biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole-wheat bread, and large baked potato with skin
• Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) and choose options with less fat and less sugar
• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which is fatty)
• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume in small amounts
• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water a day
• Adults should have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day
Source: NHS Eatwell Guide
The researchers defined the healthiest eaters as those who ate two pieces of fruit a day and three different vegetables.
They also ate 200 g of fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, each week and kept fatty and sugary processed foods to a minimum.
On the other hand, the most unhealthy eaters ate less than two pieces of fruit over the course of a week and went without vegetables for a few days.
They also steered clear of oily fish and consumed more fatty and sugary processed foods than recommended.
Professor Tim Spector, one of the researchers, said there is “no need to go vegan” to reap the benefits of healthy eating.
But he said eating a more plant-based diet “may improve your immune system” and “potentially reduce your risk of Covid.”
Professor Spector said: ‘People who eat a higher quality diet (with a low content of ultra-processed foods) have a healthier collection of microbes in their gut, which is linked to better health.’
Study co-author Dr Sarah Berry said: ‘For the first time we have been able to show that a healthier diet can reduce the chance of developing Covid.’
The study was conducted through health technology company ZOE’s Covid Symptom Study app, which has been downloaded more than a million times.
The software – which allows people to register their symptoms and whether they have had a positive test – is being used to monitor the coronavirus outbreak in Britain.
Academics used data from more than 31,000 participants who were thought to have contracted Covid in the UK and US.
Only a quarter actually tested positive for the virus – the rest were believed to be infected based on the symptoms they showed.
At the start of the pandemic, there was a lack of available tests, officially missing millions of cases.
Participants were asked what they ate in February of last year, before the virus emerged.
They were followed through the beginning of December – through the first wave and the start of the second – and asked to log in whether they had the virus or had been hospitalized.
Data showed that there were 72.2 cases of Covid for every 10,000 person-months among participants on the healthiest diets.
But for volunteers at the other end of the nutritional spectrum, the percentage was around 95.4.
The difference was even greater for cases of serious illness – defined as patients who were hospitalized and required oxygen.
After analyzing the results for other potential factors that may have skewed the findings, such as gender, ethnicity and underlying health conditions, they found that those on the best diets had a 40 percent lower chance of serious illness and a 10 percent chance of getting the virus. in the first place.
The study, which was published on medRxiv, which also involved scientists from Harvard Medical School.