December 26, 2021

Can a Plant-Based Diet Boost the Immune System in its Fight against COVID-19?

There are two things that will change our post-pandemic world: veganism and vaccinations.

We need to not just care but to act. Action is what is needed. We can’t sit and wait for the world to get better. We can’t think only of ourselves, oblivious to the harm we are causing others. We can no longer be selfish with our choices.

Being vegan and pro-vaccine embody the same values—harmony, respect, and integrity. We need to embrace those values and live for the right reasons. It’s not just animals we are protecting with veganism, it’s our health and the planet. If we are vegan, we have to have the same mindset with a vaccine.

Better yet, veganism may help alongside the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s how:

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only 1 in 10 people get enough fruits or vegetables, which leads people to be more vulnerable to diseases including Covid-19. Many studies’ results are not precise enough to conclude that a vegan diet helps fight Covid-19. While a vegan diet may not prevent Covid-19, it can prevent chronic diseases which impact the immune system making us more susceptible to Covid-19. There are many underlying factors that impact health issues that perpetuate Covid-19 symptoms. Diet can affect inflammation, metabolic conditions, and obesity which can worsen chronic diseases and therefore Covid-19. A vegan diet gives us a better fighting chance.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a balanced diet to strengthen immune function. Simply adding nuts, fruit, seeds, and vegetables to our diet helps. Medical News Today says:

“According to research a plant-based diet has health benefits for weight, energy metabolism, and systemic inflammation. These beneficial effects could support a healthy immune system and lower a person’s risk of severe impacts of COVID-19.”

It’s exposure and coming into contact with the virus which causes Covid-19. Veganism is just one way we can help ourselves. We must still get vaccinated, quarantine if necessary, wear a mask, practice social distancing, and wash our hands.

Researcher Andrew Chan monitored over 500,00 participants and concluded that “people with the highest diet quality were 10 percent less likely to contract COVID-19 and 40 percent less likely to fall severely ill from the infection than those who scored the lowest on diet quality.”

However, these studies could also have been impacted by people observing effective personal hygiene practices along with better diets.

Veganism is a powerful tool that supports our immune system’s fight against Covid-19.

A healthy gut microbiome, alongside the immune cells, is critical in fighting any infection. What we feed the microbiome majorly impacts our immune system. If we feed it processed food, the microbiome is weakened and less effective. If we feed it plant-based foods, the microbiome’s ability to assist in fighting infections is increased multifold.

Plant-based is the way to go, to amp up our immune system and strengthen the microbiome.

Micronutrients present in plant-based diets also aid in resilience against Covid-19, according to the British Journal of Nutrition. They say, “Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals that people obtain from their diet. Human bodies also produce vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. Plant foods contain many vitamins and minerals essential for a healthy immune system, such as zincselenium, and vitamins A, C, and E. Selenium is a trace mineral that benefits immune system health and cognitive function.”

Another factor to a better immune system with plant-based diets are antioxidants and polyphenols. Fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants. They fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. Medical News Today says, “Some vitamins and minerals, as well as plant compounds such as polyphenols, act as antioxidants. Polyphenols are present in berries, olives, and nuts, among other foods.” Scientists are currently studying any links between polyphenols and disease prevention though there isn’t enough evidence yet.

As people age, their immune system does too. This immunological aging is known as immunosenescence. Polyphenols fight the senescence process along with reducing inflammation. This is good because the immune system then becomes more resilient to fighting diseases.

Medical News Today says, “Another review notes that excessive oxidative stress may be responsible for the lung damage, thrombosis, and red blood cell dysregulation that occurs in some people with COVID-19. The authors of the review suggest that antioxidants could have therapeutic effects. Therefore, a plant-based diet rich in antioxidants and polyphenols may help protect against COVID-19.”

Diet helps the immune system and our overall daily self-care habits. But these do not replace vaccination nor do they prevent Covid-19. Scientists are still studying ways in which plant-based foods assist the microbiome in your immune system and how this impacts Covid-19.

This shouldn’t be hard though to figure out. Healthy vegan and plant-based foods = Increased and more effective microbiome, micronutrients, antioxidants, and polyphenols = Healthier immune system= Better chance against Covid-19.

If you needed a reason to go vegan/plant-based and help the planet, fighting Covid-19 and reducing its symptoms are a great incentive. Plant-based diets also reduce mortality, lower the risk of cancer, hypertension, and rheumatoid arthritis.

If you have any thoughts to share, I would love to receive your input!

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