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In the early days of the Covid pandemic it was difficult to know exactly who would be affected by the infection and how badly.
But just as we continued to learn about the symptoms it brought with it, research has also highlighted some of the risk factors associated with the severity of infection.
A study that involved 600,000 people in the US and UK revealed how diet could influence your body’s response to Covid.
It found that those who consumed the “healthiest” diet were 10 percent less likely to report having COVID-19 compared with those who had the unhealthiest diet.
The research, conducted by the Zoe Health Study, Harvard Medical School and King’s College London, found people who ate this diet were also 40 percent less likely to have “severe” COVID-19 that required treatment in the hospital.
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Zoe Health explained: “The healthiest diet included many plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, but also oily fish and fermented foods that are good for gut health.
“These foods are important for your immune system, which fights off infections.”
Experts at Zoe Health listed seven types of foods that made up what was considered the “healthiest” diet for warding off Covid.
“Vegetables are full of fibre, minerals, and vitamins, which support your immune system and help you fight off diseases,” experts said.
“You can incorporate vegetables into your diet in many ways. Aim for a variety throughout the week, which can include both fresh and frozen veggies.
“You can also eat canned vegetables, but look for brands that are low in added sugar and salt.”
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They commented: “Whole fruit is naturally sweet and has many nutrients that are good for your health, including fibre and vitamins.
“Try starting your day with chopped fruit in your cereal or with yoghurt, and reach for an apple or a banana as a snack between meals.”
“Whole grains, including brown rice and wholemeal pasta, contain all three parts of the grain: the bran, endosperm, and germ,” they said.
“This is in contrast to refined grains, which are processed to remove the bran and the germ.
“There are plenty of nutrients in the bran and the germ, such as fibre, healthy fats, minerals, and vitamins, which you can only get by eating the whole grain.”
Other whole grain options include:
- Bulgur wheat
- Wild rice.
The experts explained: “Oily fish is high in omega-3 fats, which are essential for our health.
“Aside from these healthy fats, fish also has a host of other important nutrients, including iodine, iron, selenium, vitamin B2, vitamin D, and zinc.
“Some of the healthiest fish to eat are farmed trout, sardines, anchovies, and herring.”
Nuts and seeds
They said: “Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats and other nutrients, such as antioxidants, fibre, minerals, and vitamins.
“Almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pistachios, and walnuts all make convenient snacks and are easy to bring on the go.”
“Legumes — such as chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peas — are a good source of fibre and protein,” they said.
“Scientists have found that incorporating legumes into the diet can lower a person’s risk of developing chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.”
The experts added: “Fermented foods are great for your gut. They increase the quantity and diversity of the trillions of microbes that reside here and form your gut microbiome.
“A healthy gut microbiome supports your immune system, helping you fight off infections, including COVID-19.”
Fermented foods include:
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