Almost half of humanity is about to have the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 6.54 billion doses have already been administered worldwide, and currently, 23.41 million are applied per day, according to the OurWorldinData site. Vaccines are key to reducing the risk of complications and deaths, and to avoid developing PostCoVID symptoms after having had the coronavirus infection. Nevertheless, access to inoculants is not enough. People also need to eat a diet based on fruits and vegetables, as recommended by scientists in the United States.
“A strong vaccination program is vital, essential, and insufficient,” says Saray Stancic, director of medical education for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit organization, and a member of the faculty of the University School of Medicine. Rutgers, in New Jersey, United States, Neal Barnard, and Josh Cullimore, of the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commission Group in the United Kingdom. The position was published as a commentary article in the American Journal of Medicine.
In addition to vaccines, the authors believe that health authorities should recommend plant-based diets to help patients improve their health and decrease their vulnerability to COVID-19. To recommend it, the scientists draw on a new study of healthcare workers whose immune response to the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine was inversely associated with waist circumference.
The study was conducted in 2021 with health workers from six countries and revealed that those who followed diets with more vegetables were 73% less likely to develop moderate to severe COVID-19, compared to those who followed other diets.
“This benefit may come from the fact that plant-based diets are associated with significantly lower body weight, a lower risk of hypertension, lower cholesterol levels, and a lower risk of diabetes,” stated Dr. Stancic.
“A plant-based diet can benefit a large group of individuals who do not respond adequately to vaccination and who, however, do not have a classical immunosuppressive condition,” he added.
After the spread of the coronavirus around the world, more than 237 million cases of people with COVID-19 and more than 4.8 million deaths have already been reported. By investigating more about the development of severe cases, we were better able to identify which people are at risk factors for complications.
“The best vaccine needs to be applied to a well-nourished person (not too much or too little) in order to respond adequately and to produce humoral and cellular immunity against the coronavirus. Malnutrition is both more or less bad for health and taking into account COVID 19 is no exception”, added Schraier, who today analyzed the article published in the American Journal of Medicine.
As of November 18, 2020, more than 60% of COVID-19 hospitalizations were attributable to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, or heart failure, Stancic noted. “We are suggesting, perhaps surprisingly, that a key but neglected part of our immunization strategy should be to support the cardiometabolic health of the patient as far as possible”.
To improve health and decrease vulnerability to COVID-19 and other diseases, the authors suggest three key strategies. One of them is that healthcare personnel today must encourage patients to improve underlying health conditions, including adopting healthy eating habits, particularly a renewed emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes, and plant-based diets.
That recommendation is in line with the American Medical Association’s June 2021 policy, which urges government leaders to encourage people with underlying health conditions associated with COVID-19 morbidity and mortality to see their doctors. to institute (or resume) appropriate treatment for those underlying conditions.
Physicians should refer appropriate patients to registered nutrition professionals as a matter of medical urgency. They should provide nutritional information and encode the nutritional messages in their electronic medical records to automatically deliver them to patients upon discharge. Hospitals, too, should provide information about good nutrition to patients, families, visitors, and staff, and should model it with the foods they serve.
“For a vaccination program to work, convincing people to get down to work for the initial vaccination and the necessary boosters is a key step,” said Dr. Stancic. “Improving your ability to respond to the vaccine is another. Evidence suggests that urgently addressing underlying health conditions with a healthier diet, to begin with, would not only reduce the likelihood of serious infection and death; Over time it can also help vaccines work better, ”he said.
According to Dr. Schraier, each person should eat a balanced diet and take into account that there are essential nutrients to boost immunity. One of them is iron, whose main source of iron of high biological value is red meat. Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA) are also necessary: present in salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines. Chia, soybean, and canola oil, present precursors that require modifications within the body to become EPA and DHA.
Vitamin C is obtained through citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, bell peppers, cabbage, turnip, radish, broccoli, potatoes, and raw parsley, liver, kidney. Vitamin E is found in nuts (such as peanuts, hazelnuts, and especially almonds), seeds (such as sunflower seeds), and leafy green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli.
The B Complex vitamins (B1, B2, B6, folic acid, etc.) are present in a variety of foods such as red meat, fish, dairy, seeds, eggs, seafood, and most fruits and vegetables. Vitamin B12 is found especially in eggs and red meat. It is also obtained through chicken, seafood, milk, and its derivatives.
As for minerals, animal proteins are a good source of zinc, especially those from beef, pork, and lamb. Nuts, whole grains, legumes, and yeast also provide zinc. Meanwhile, fish, shellfish, red meat, grains, eggs, chicken, liver, and garlic allow the incorporation of selenium.
The antioxidants like polyphenols are found in fruits, vegetables, cereals, and tea. While carrots, bell peppers, sweet potato or sweet potato, pumpkin, greens, and vegetables, especially dark green ones such as spinach, chard, or broccoli are excellent sources of beta-carotene.
Fibers are also immuno nutrients and are in fruits and vegetables, especially apples, oranges, carrots, broccoli, and onions. Also in oat bran, barley, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and in legumes, seeds and grains, wheat bran, corn, whole grains, in the peels of apples and pears, in the white part of citrus fruits and legumes. In addition to healthy eating, doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity and drinking safe water are other keys to maintaining good health.