Covid-19 and Diet

By T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.

     Here is the hopeful, even revolutionary, idea. People can defend themselves against the worst effects of the COVID-19 infection…by strengthening their immune systems through their food choices…In my opinion, good evidence exists to show that the beneficial effects of a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet also applies to viral diseases like COVID-19. I am referring to 1) research findings in my lab in the 1970s through the 1990s, 2) supplementary evidence from a comprehensive study of diet, lifestyle, and disease, twice done, in a human population in rural China during the 1980s, and 3) specific evidence from researchers on diet and viral infection.
     Collaborating with our Chinese and Oxford colleagues, we obtained evidence over three decades ago showing how viral immunity was enhanced not by drug means but by nutritional means, namely, higher consumption of plant-based foods!” Higher consumption of plant foods was associated with lower blood levels of active virus (antigen) and higher levels of inactive virus (immunity). The reverse was true for indicators of animal-based food consumption.
      We find ourselves in this difficult place because for years industry, government, and academia have suppressed the most important truth of health, which is that there is credible evidence that a diet of whole, plant-based foods (vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, legumes and nuts) can create more health than all the pills and procedures combined. The supporting evidence for this bold statement refers to the ability of this diet to not only prevent so-called chronic degenerative diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, stroke, cancer, etc.), but also to treat many of these same diseases, a response that can be seen in days (e.g. lower serum cholesterol (LDL, total), reduced body weight, and decreased blood pressure)…

    Why do medical schools fail to teach nutrition? Why is there no mechanism for reimbursing primary care physicians and their colleagues for advisory services in nutrition? Why, among the 27 U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), is there not a single institute dedicated to nutrition? Why do we ignore the approximate 150,000 preventable deaths per month (medical errors, prescription drugs, and nutritionally-caused chronic diseases) when we are so concerned, and rightly so, about the tens of thousands of COVID-19 deaths? Why do we spend more per capita on drugs than any economically developed country in the world, while ranking 44th in life expectancy? Why is the consumption of livestock the #1 cause of global warming? Why is our healthcare system so expensive, while failing to adequately insure all of our citizens? I can easily think of many similar questions, all of which arise from our lack of understanding of nutrition.”             ¨

     T. Colin Campbell is the author of The China Study, professor emeritus of nutrition at Cornell University, and director of the T. Colin Campbell Plant-Based Medicine Center.

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