Vegetarian and plant-based diets associated with lower incidence of COVID-19

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Abstract

Objective To evaluate the influence of dietary patterns on the incidence and evolution of COVID-19. We hypothesised that a plant-based diet or a vegetarian diet compared with an omnivorous diet might be associated with a lower incidence of COVID-19 infection and severity in those infected. Design In this observational study, 702 participants provided information on sociodemographic characteristics, dietary information and COVID-19 outcomes between March and July of 2022. Individuals were divided into two groups based on their dietary habits, omnivorous (n=424) and plant-based (n=278). The plant-based group was further divided into vegetarian and flexitarian subgroups. The groups were compared with respect to the incidence of COVID-19 infection, severity and duration. We used multivariable logistic regression models to evaluate the influence of dietary patterns. Results Plant-based and vegetarian groups had a higher intake of vegetables, legumes and nuts, and lower intake of dairy and meat. After adjusting for important confounders, such as body mass index, physical activity and pre-existing medical conditions, the plant-based diet and vegetarian group had 39% (OR=0.61, 95% CI 0.44 to 0.85; p=0.003) and 39% (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.88; p=0.009) lower odds of the incidence of COVID-19 infection, respectively, compared with the omnivorous group. No association was observed between self-reported diets and COVID-19 severity or duration. Conclusion Plant-based and mainly vegetarian diets were associated with a lower incidence of COVID-19 infection. These dietary patterns may be considered protective against COVID-19 infection. (Study protocol registered in CAAE: 54351421.4.0000.0068.)

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APA

Acosta-Navarro, J. C., Dias, L. F., Gomes de Gouveia, L. A., Ferreira, E. P., Fernandes de Oliveira, M. V. P., Marin, F. A., … Soares, P. R. (2024). Vegetarian and plant-based diets associated with lower incidence of COVID-19. BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjnph-2023-000629

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