Covid-19 and diet

05/13/2020

This is a precarious and frightening time for all of us, but hope is not lost: We can protect ourselves from the coronavirus and prevent pandemics like this from happening again by the simple, individual action of eating a plant-based diet.

Covid-19 jumped into the human population from bats via a pangolin, a delicacy in China found in many wet markets selling wild and exotic animals for consumption. As a matter of fact, the majority of infectious diseases have come from animals. Ten thousand years ago, mankind started having close contact with animals when we began domesticating them for food and labor, and with this contact came bacterial and viral sicknesses. Diseases passed from animals to humans are called “zoonoses” and infect us through bacteria or viruses. There are more than three dozen we can catch directly through touch and more than four dozen that result from bites. The common cold came from camels in the Middle East, mad cow disease comes from cattle, and influenza comes from pigs and birds.

Our current method of raising animals for food in tight quarters—accounting for 99 percent of all production—provides the perfect breeding ground for these nasty and deadly bacteria and viruses. A 2007 article published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information states, “Influenza pandemics occur when a novel influenza strain, often of animal origin, becomes transmissible between humans. Domestic animal species such as poultry or swine in confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs) could serve as local amplifiers for such a new strain of influenza.”

Changing to a plant-based diet will reduce the demand for meat—and boost your immune system. A recent article by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., titled “Our Most Important Defense Against Covid-19: Finding Hope Through Scientific Evidence,” states that “people can defend themselves against the worst effects of the Covid-19 infection, and help flatten the curve of hospitalizations, by strengthening their immune systems through their food choices. It is well-known that people over 60 years of age with pre-existing disease conditions are most vulnerable to Covid-19. And it is also known that most of these diseases are the result of poor nutrition.”  

Dr. Campbell cites numerous studies showing the links between viruses and cancers and how plant-based nutrition inactivates viruses prior to causing the cancer. Studies of the hepatitis B virus and liver cancer showed that “Higher consumption of thiamine, plant protein, dietary fiber, and polyunsaturated fatty acids as well as blood levels of antioxidants (all from plant-based food) was associated with lower blood levels of active virus (antigen) and higher levels of inactive virus (inactive virus, immunity)—all statistically significant. The reverse was true for indicators of animal-based food consumption.”  

We are at a crossroads. We have a real chance to not only greatly improve our health, but also reduce the probability of more pandemics by reducing our consumption of animal products. Our food system continues to be a breeding ground for these terrible illnesses as long as demand continues. The current administration has invoked the Defense Production Act to keep meat plants open and the supply of animal products flowing while ignoring the need for more test kits. I am afraid change is up to each of us.  

 

Dave Osborn is a semi-retired contractor who lives in Point Reyes Station.