It is well known that nutrition plays an important role in health. In particular, high meat consumption can have harmful effects. Do meat eaters also have a higher corona risk? This is what researchers wanted to find out – and this is the answer.
Numerous risk factors favor severe COVID-19 disease. These include age, previous illnesses, and obesity. This raises the question of whether and how diet plays a role – this has hardly been proven so far. That is why US scientists have investigated, among other things, whether meat eaters have a higher corona risk.
US study on eating habits and corona risk
Anyone suffering from obesity, high blood pressure, or type 2 diabetes has a higher risk of contracting corona. These diseases are also the result of an unhealthy lifestyle: Too little exercise and poor nutrition promote a disease. A team of researchers from the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in New York has therefore looked into this topic in more detail.
558 corona patients from six countries
Between July and September last year, the study surveyed 2,884 people who work in healthcare and was therefore at a higher risk of infection. The subjects came from different countries, including Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and the USA. 558 participants stated that they had contracted Corona – 430 of them had a mild course, while 138 had moderate to severe disease.
Corona risk of plant and fish eaters compared to meat eaters
In addition to questions about their demographic data, previous illnesses, or medication, the subjects also had to provide information about their eating habits: 47 of the 100 questions related to this area. It turned out that 41 of the 568 respondents were vegetarians or vegans and 46 were pescetarians, i.e. people who do not eat meat but eat fish and seafood.
Do meat eaters have a higher corona risk? Yes!
The results were clear. Anyone who eats a plant-based diet or only eats fish is much less likely to get seriously ill with Corona:
- Pescetarians had a 59 percent lower risk of developing moderate to severe coronavirus.
- For vegetarians and vegans, the probability even dropped by 73 percent.
In contrast, the risk of infection and the duration of the disease were not influenced by diet. The consideration of other factors such as weight, age, previous illnesses, and lifestyle did not change the results.
Why do meat eaters have a higher corona risk?
The study does not answer the question of why meat eaters have a higher corona risk. It is assumed that the nutrients in a plant-based diet have a positive effect on the immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins in fish also boost the body’s defense mechanism. However, this is not proven.
Overall, the study can only give indications, its informative value is limited by several points: The self-assessments of the subjects are not objective. It can also be assumed that vegetarians, vegans, and pescetarians have a healthier lifestyle overall, beyond diet. In addition, it was mainly men who were interviewed, so the results cannot simply be extrapolated to women.
Nevertheless, the US study points in one direction: Meat eaters have a higher corona risk for a severe course – and this should be examined more intensively.