Sciences

Diet may affect risk and severity of COVID-19: Study – Naveen Bharat

Washington: A recent study led by researchers Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and published in Gut, people whose diets were based on healthy plant-based foods had a lower risk in both cases. The beneficial effects of diet on COVID-19 risk seemed to be particularly relevant in individuals living in areas of high socioeconomic deprivation.
Although metabolic conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes have been linked to an increased risk of COVID-19, as well as an increased risk of experiencing severe symptoms once infected, the effect of diet on these risks is unknown.
“Previous reports suggest that poor nutrition is a common feature among groups affected by the pandemic, but data on the association between diet and COVID-19 risk and severity are lacking,” said lead author Jordi Marino, PHD, a research associate in the Diabetes Unit and Center for Genomic Medicine at MGH, and an instructor in medicine Harvard Medical School.
For the study, Marino and his colleagues examined data from 592,571 participants in the smartphone-based COVID-19 Symptom Study. Participants lived in the UK and US, and were recruited from March 24, 2020, and followed until December 2, 2020. At the start of the study, participants completed a questionnaire asking about their dietary habits before the pandemic. a healthy one. Diet quality was assessed using Plant-Based Diet Score Which emphasizes healthy plant foods like fruits and vegetables.
During the follow-up, 31,831 participants developed COVID-19. Compared to individuals in the lowest quartile of the diet score, those in the highest quartile had a 9 percent lower risk of developing COVID-19 and a 41% lower risk of developing severe COVID-19. “These findings were consistent with a series of susceptibility analyzes accounting for other healthy behaviors, social determinants of health, and community virus transmission rates,” Marino said.
“While we cannot stress enough the importance of vaccination and wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, our study shows that individuals can reduce their risk of getting COVID-19 or having a worse outcome by paying attention to their diet. ,” said co-senior author Andrew Chan, MD, MPH, gastroenterologist and chief of the Clinical and Translational Epidemiology Unit at MGH.
The researchers also found a synergistic association between poor diet and increased socioeconomic deprivation with COVID-19 risk that was greater than the sum of the risks associated with each factor alone.
“Our model estimates that about a third of COVID-19 cases could be prevented if one of the two exposures – diet or deprivation – was not present,” Marino said.
The results also suggest that public health strategies that improve access to healthy foods and address the social determinants of health can help reduce the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our findings are a call to governments and stakeholders to prioritize well-being with a healthy diet and effective policies, otherwise we risk losing decades of economic progress and substantial increases in health inequalities,” Merino said.
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