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Covid-19: What we eat matters all the more now

Updated: Apr 11, 2021

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) released an article, authored by one of their editors in chief, titled:

Covid-19: What we eat matters all the more now

The editor in chief discusses the importance of our diet and nutrition taking into context the current pandemic. As we dive deeper into the winter, Covid-19 cases are predicted to keep rising, making it even more so important to take as many preventative measures to protect ourselves and everyone else. What we eat can play a role as one of the preventative measures. The BMJ article recommends focusing our diets on plant-based whole foods:

"While acknowledging the many complexities and uncertainties, a consensus is emerging: we need diets richer in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and legumes, with less red meat, refined carbohydrates, and highly processed foods."

Considering the health benefits of fiber-rich carbohydrates and plant-based protein sources, it should be to no surprise why the recommendations entail increasing plant-based whole foods and limiting processed foods, refined carbohydrates and red meat. As discussed, what people eat can not only help improve people's physical and mental well-being, but also help take pressure off the healthcare systems.

A review published in the journal, Nutrition Reviews, summarizing the nutritional guidelines associated with Covid-19 discusses how optimal nutrition can help improve overall well-being and may also help mitigate risk and morbidity associated with Covid-19. One thing commonly found among majority of documents reviewed pointed towards the importance of consumption of fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods.

Avoiding the intake of fat, sugar and salt was also recommended. It was suggested to reduce the intake of sugary foods and drinks, meat portions and other animal-based foods to help lower the intake of saturated fat. Saturated fat as discussed here is detrimental to our health in many ways. A high intake of saturated fatty acids has been shown to promote low-grade inflammation. Whereas, healthier fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids promote a healthier immune system. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially important to help support our immune system and should be consumed in higher amounts. More can be found here for healthy essential fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.

About one-third of the guidelines reviewed underlined the significance of getting adequate amount of nutrients such as vitamins C, A and D and zinc and selenium to help maintain a healthy immune system, which is especially important now. The focus should be getting as many of the nutrients from your diet as possible and only supplementing when needed. Focusing your diet on legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.), whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds can help attain these nutrients important to our immune system. Supplementing with vitamin D, however, should be considered as many of us don't spend much time in the sun.


  1. Godlee, F. Covid-19: What we eat matters all the more now. BMJ. 2020 July. 370:m2840.

  2. de Faria Coelho-Ravagnani C, Corgosinho FC, Sanches FFZ, Prado CMM, Laviano A, Mota JF. Dietary recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nutr Rev. 2020;nuaa067.

  3. Ruiz-Nuñez B, Dijck-Brouwer DAJ, Muskiet FAJ.. The relation of saturated fatty acids with low-grade inflammation and cardiovascular disease. J Nutr Biochem. 2016;36:1–20.


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