Eating a plant-based diet could lower risk of contracting type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer by around 50%.
Boosting our immune systems is one of our best defenses against the novel coronavirus. In severe cases, COVID-19 can short-circuit or cause the immune system to attack itself. Some researchers have suggested the disease’s behavior represents an eerie parallel to HIV/AIDs, causing a depletion of important immune cells.
It is no surprise Americans are seeking ways to improve health and reduce any risk of disease — whether that comes in the form of the coronavirus or not. According to new research, one of the simplest hacks to lower your chance of getting sick is consuming more plant proteins and an overall plant-based diet.
A new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine documented the eating habits and health reports of more than 400,000 people across 16 years. The study’s authors found that a great plant protein intake lower mortality rates in men and women by 12-14%. Furthermore, replacing just 3% of animal protein with plant protein decreased overall mortality in both sexes by 10%.
Researchers concluded the most dramatic improvements in health came from replacing red meat and egg proteins with plant proteins.
“Findings from this and previous studies provide evidence that dietary modifications in choice of protein sources may promote health and longevity,” the study’s authors wrote.
Speaking of previous studies, the Journal of the American College of Nutrition published a lengthy editorial summarizing prior research on the health benefits of consuming more plant proteins. Some studies found a plant-based diet could lower risk of contracting type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer by around 50%. “Proper nutrition may help prevent almost half of cardiometabolic deaths in the United States,” the editorial reads.
“Adopting a healthful diet and lifestyle is a powerful tool which may delay the aging process, decrease age-associated co-morbidities and mortality, and increase life expectancy,” the review’s authors added. “This strategy represents the most cost-effective approach, and should be incorporated in everyday practice.”
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Hana Kahleova was a co-author of the editorial and serves as the director of clinical research at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She told Inverse that maintaining a plant-based diet can help manage chronic diseases, which can be made worse by COVID-19.
Said Kahleova, “More than ever, it’s important that we keep our bodies as healthy as we possibly can.”