Acclaimed plant-based health expert Dr. T. Colin Campbell says switching to a whole food plant-based diet could 'produce a faster, safer, more comprehensive long-term solution for coping with viral diseases like COVID-19'.
The prolific plant-based advocate - and author of The China Study - made the comments in a recent article titled Could Changing Our Diets Defeat COVID-19? published by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies.
Nutritional risk factors
In it, Dr. Campbell referenced research he had previously done as part of the China Project, in which he and his team investigated the virus hepatitis B (HBV)
"We collected data on the prevalence of people having antibodies and antigens, multiple disease mortality rates, and many nutritional risk factors," he wrote. "Relying only on statistically significant findings, HBV antibody prevalence was highly correlated with vegetable consumption, dietary fiber, and plant protein. In short, more plant food consumption was associated with more antibodies."
He added that while each virus creates its own unique symptoms, they also share something in common - 'they invade hosts like us, and our immune system, which adapts for each virus strain, mounts a defense, most commonly by custom-making antibodies for each virus strain'.
Nutrition and immune response
As COVID-19 is also a viral disease, he asks, is it possible that this same nutrition could help us improve our immune response? Dr. Campbell wrote: "In our research, we also found that people consuming more animal protein had fewer antibodies, even in those consuming a very low amount of animal protein."
What Dr. Campbell describes as the 'consistent interplay of nutrition, virus activity, and disease' should theoretically apply to COVID-19, he said, and 'switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet should lessen the severity of disease symptoms while simultaneously increasing COVID-19 antibodies, a win-win effect'.
Moreover, this effect could 'begin within days', he writes, which could possibly provide 'enough time for people not yet infected by COVID-19 to strengthen their immunity'.
'A faster, safer, more comprehensive long-term solution'
"Even though there is no direct proof, I am quite confident that this nutritional strategy could produce a faster, safer, more comprehensive long-term solution for coping with viral diseases like COVID-19," Dr. Campbell wrote.
"If everyone did it, we might not need to mask ourselves, avoid physical contact, and wait for new drugs with unpredictable side effects and vaccines likely to be only partially effective, at best, for new viruses...
"We already have strong scientific evidence that this diet effectively reduces comorbidities associated with severe cases of COVID-19. With each new epidemic, do we really want to wait a year or more to develop drug treatments and vaccines of uncertain efficacy?"
A preventative role
Dr. Campbell is not alone in his belief that a whole-food, plant-based diet could help in the fight against COVID-19. Dr. Michael Greger, who has a background in infectious disease, told Plant Based News in an exclusive interview how a plant-based diet can play a preventative role.
An internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues, Dr. Greger is the author of Bird Flu: A Virus Of Our Own Hatching, which looks at infectious diseases and human's role in them - as well as how we can protect ourselves.
His newest book, How To Survive A Pandemic* looks at the pathogens that cause pandemics and how to face them - and the role chicken farming is playing in the risk of future pandemics.
Plant-based diet and coronavirus
"A plant-based diet offers protection against COVID-19 because we have so much lower rates of the pre-existing conditions that increase your risk," he told PBN.
"Hypertension, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes. These are the diseases that are dramatically lower among those who eat a healthy, whole food, plant-based diet."
*How To Survive A Pandemic is available on Kindle and in audiobook format, and in paperback from August 20.