I am a fitness enthusiast. I also adhere to a nutrient-dense, “clean” diet plan, which means I try to minimize my sugar intake and eat plenty of whole foods to optimize my health.
You may be wondering how effective such a diet and exercise program is in fighting COVID-19, because some people advise without supporting evidence that if you closely follow a detailed healthy lifestyle, vaccination may not be necessary.
As a research scientist who has studied nutrition for nearly 20 years, I have observed the response of healthy communities to the COVID-19 vaccine with great interest. Although the right diet can have a beneficial effect on the immune system, it is unreasonable to expect that nutrition alone will be able to fight off potentially life-threatening viruses.
My experience in nutrition science
My laboratory team at the University of Memphis studies the effects of food and isolated nutrients on human health. In January 2009, we conducted a preliminary study on a strict vegan diet. We recruited 43 men and women who could eat as much plant food as needed, but only drink water for 21 days.
The results show that many variables related to cardiometabolic health have improved, such as blood cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin, and C-reactive protein-a protein that increases in response to inflammation. Since then, we have completed multiple human and animal nutrition studies using this diet plan.
The research in my laboratory has produced approximately 200 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and book chapters devoted to nutrients and exercise and the interaction between these two variables. The results of our work and other scientists clearly demonstrate the power of food to have a positive effect on health.
For many people, positive changes in eating habits can lead to improvements in clinically relevant indicators such as blood cholesterol and blood sugar, so that doctors can sometimes reduce or cancel certain drugs used to treat high cholesterol and diabetes. In other cases, these measures have improved, but patients still need to use drugs to control the disease. This tells us that in some cases, a good nutrition plan is simply not enough to overcome physical challenges.
Nutrition and other health methods are important
Although certain natural products have been discussed as a treatment for COVID-19, few people emphasize whole food nutrition as a protective measure. I think this is unfortunate, and I believe it is very important to strengthen our immune system against COVID-19 and other viral infections. Evidence tells us that a nutritious diet, regular exercise and adequate sleep all help optimize immune function.
Regarding nutritional intake, a recently published study using samples of health care workers infected with COVID-19 pointed out that those who follow a plant-based or plague diet have a reduced risk of moderate to severe COVID-19 by 73% and 59%, respectively , Compared with those who do not follow these diets. Although interesting, it is important to remember that these findings represent an association rather than causation.
Although people can use nutrition to help strengthen the immune system against COVID-19, diet is only an important consideration. Other variables are also important, including stress management, nutritional supplements, maintaining physical distance, and wearing a mask.
But it needs to be clear that all these elements should be seen as tools in a toolbox to help fight COVID-19—not as a substitute for a potentially life-saving vaccine.
Vaccines are not perfect, but they can save lives
I find it interesting that almost all parents understand the importance of getting their children vaccinated against serious diseases such as mumps, measles and chickenpox. They do not expect certain foods or nurturing environments to function as vaccines.
However, when it comes to COVID-19, some people who think that a healthy lifestyle will replace vaccines have given up this thinking process without serious consideration of the role of vaccines in actually providing protection from the virus-this is just the basis of a healthy lifestyle Can’t do it.
When considering whether to get the COVID-19 vaccine, please consider the following: All medicines are risky, including aspirin, which appears to be harmless. Hormonal contraceptives — used by millions of women every month — are thought to cause approximately 300-400 deaths in the United States each year. The same is true for cosmetic surgery, Botox injections, and other elective surgeries.
Many people are willing to accept the low risk in these situations, but are reluctant to accept those involved in the COVID-19 vaccine—despite the fact that the risk of serious complications or death from COVID-19 far exceeds the low risk of serious adverse events. vaccine.
No lifestyle approach, including strict adherence to a comprehensive, nutrient-rich diet-vegan, plant-based diet or other methods-will give full protection against COVID-19. The vaccine is not perfect. In some cases breakthrough infections do occur, although vaccines continue to provide strong protection against serious illness and death.
I encourage people to do their best to improve the health and function of the immune system naturally. Then, carefully consider what additional protection you can get from the COVID-19 vaccine. When people make decisions based on the evolving latest science rather than emotions and misinformation, decisions should become clearer.