Vegetarian diet: NHS share easy vegetable patty recipe
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The various risk factors and co-morbidities for COVID-19 make broad statements challenging. Factors such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and poor diet can all play a part in the development of the disease and the severity of symptoms. Incorporating a greater amount of plants and cutting back on meats may be one way of reducing the risk of not only the coronavirus but also the various conditions it can compound on. Such preventive approaches can reduce the burden on the NHS as they are not dependent on doctors.
A pair of doctors from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine say the solution may lie in so-called “blue zones” where all cause mortality is drastically lower.
Citizens of Okinawa, Japan, have a mortality rate from Covid of 0.08 percent, compared to Tokyo’s 1.3 percent, 16 times larger.
The lower population density means that spread was much lower in Okinawa, but the survival rate of people who did contract the disease was much higher because of their better general health.
Okinawans, the authors say, consume a diet almost entirely composed of locally grown plants with half of their daily calories coming from sweet potatoes.
Doctors Hana Kahleova and Neal Barnar, director of clinical research and president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, have researched the effects of plant-based diets over the course of the pandemic.
One study focused on whether the dietary change could help health workers, a group at high risk of contracting Covid.
Dr Kahleova said: “Hospital employees continue to risk illness and death from COVID-19 every day but our research shows a plant-based diet can help hospital workers lower high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels – which are linked to more severe illness and death from COVID-19 –and help ensure they remain healthy to better serve patients.”
Similar research from other groups has found that heath care workers following plant-based diets are at much lower risk of developing severe symptoms.
Dr Barnard said that dietary changes should be used to bolster vaccine efficacy during the emergence of the Delta variant in October.
Sixty percent of severe coronavirus hospitalisations, he says, were attributable to metabolic issues that diet can help to treat.
This includes obesity, hypertension, diabetes and heart failure.
In an attached commentary to the research, Dr Barnard said: “A solid vaccination program is lifesaving, essential, and insufficient.
“Obesity and other cardiometabolic conditions are in large measure driven by food choices over which the medical profession and public health officials have seemingly no control,” he said.
“But there is reason for hope.
“It should be remembered that the anti-smoking efforts of a generation ago were immensely successful at changing attitudes and habits.
“Similarly, much of the battle against COVID-19 so far has been on the behavioural battlefield, aiming to change habits related to hygiene, masks, social behaviour, and willingness to be vaccinated.”
Diet is an important mediator of health that can affect your risk of a large number of conditions.
Diets low in meat and processed foods have been broadly linked to better physical and mental health outcomes.
Conditions such as diabetes can be aggravated or caused by diets high in sugar.
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