Of course, Merino said, people who follow a healthy diet may differ in many ways from those who have less healthy eating habits. So his team took into account factors such as age and ethnicity Playing sports Habits smokingAnd body weight and whether people live in low- or high-income neighborhoods.
Obesity, for example, is a risk factor for severe COVID-19. The study found that body weight explains a good part of the relationship between diet and COVID-19 risk.
The researchers noted that the diet itself still showed a protective effect.
Merino said the link was actually stronger among people living in economically disadvantaged areas. The researchers estimated that if one of these two factors were not present — poor diet or deprivation — roughly a third of the COVID-19 cases in the study group were prevented.
However, Glatt cautioned that it is very difficult to separate any effect of the diet from anything else people do in their lives.
“There are a lot of variables,” he said.
Glatt said people seeking to eat healthy may be being careful about their health in general — and protecting themselves from COVID-19 specifically.
The researchers asked respondents about their mask-wearing habits, and these responses did not explain the diet’s association with Covid.
But, Glatt said, “it’s impossible to account for everything” — including whether people were working from home, using public transportation, or were willing and able to avoid other crowded indoor situations.
Merino noted some other limitations of the study. While about a quarter of respondents were 65 or older, they were healthy as a group – with only a few reporting chronic conditions such as heart disease And diabetic.
In addition, Merino said, the survey was conducted in 2020 — before anyone was vaccinated and before the highly contagious delta type emerged.
It is not known whether a healthy diet may have any additional effect on the vaccinated person, or during the period of delta dominance.
Those warnings, Merino and Glatt both said, is that eating plenty of whole, plant-based foods is definitely a wise idea, because well-nourished people are generally healthier and tougher.
“It is reasonable to suggest that a healthy diet would be beneficial,” Glatt said.