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Does a plant-based diet really help beat COVID-19?

A new paper suggests that plant- and fish-based diets lessen the chance of developing severe symptoms – but hold off from becoming vegetarian or pescatarian for now.

Dejan Dundjerski/Shutterstock

Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been suggested that certain foods or diets may offer protection against COVID-19. But are these sorts of claims reliable?

A recent study published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention and Health sought to test this hypothesis. It found that health professionals who reported following diets that are vegetarian, vegan or pescatarian (those that exclude meat but include fish) had a lower risk of developing moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

Additionally, the study found that those who said they eat a low-carbohydrate or high-protein diet seemed to have an increased risk of contracting moderate-to-severe COVID-19.

This may make it sound like certain food preferences – such as being vegetarian or a fish eater – may benefit you by reducing the risk of COVID-19. But in reality, things aren’t so clear.

Self-reporting and small samples

First, it’s important to underline that reported diet type didn’t influence the initial risk of contracting COVID-19. The study isn’t suggesting that diet changes the risk of getting infected. Nor did it find links between diet type and length of illness. Rather, the study only suggests that there’s a link between diet and the specific risk of developing moderate-to-severe COVID-19 symptoms.

It’s also important to consider the actual number of people involved. Just under 3,000 health professionals took part, spread across six western countries, and only 138 developed moderate-to-severe disease. As each person placed their diet into one of 11 categories, this left a very small number eating certain types of diet and then even smaller numbers getting seriously ill.

A man eating a burger and chips
It’s hard to assess the true quality of people’s diets without monitoring what they actually eat. veryulissa/Shutterstock

This meant, for instance, that fish eaters had to be grouped together with vegetarians and vegans to produce meaningful results. In the end only 41 vegetarians/vegans contracted COVID-19 and only five fish eaters got the disease. Of these, just a handful went on to develop moderate-to-severe COVID-19. Working with such small numbers increases the risk of a falsely identifying a relationship between factors when there isn’t one – what statisticians call a type 1 error.

Then there is another problem with studies of this type. It’s observational only, so can only suggest theories about what is happening, rather than any causality of diet over the effects of COVID-19. To attempt to show something is actually causal, you ideally need to test it as an intervention – that is, get someone to switch to doing it for the study, give it time to show an effect, and then compare the results with people who haven’t had that intervention.

This is how randomised controlled trials work and why they are considered the best source of evidence. They are a much more robust method of testing whether one single thing is having an effect on something else.

Plus, there is also the problem that the diet people say they consume may not be what they actually eat. A questionnaire was used to find out what foods people ate specifically, but responses to this were also self-reported. It also had only 47 questions, so subtle but influential differences in people’s diets may have gone unnoticed. After all, the foods available in the US do differ from those available in Spain, France, Italy, the UK and Germany.

So what does this tell us?

When it comes to trying to determine the best diet for protecting against COVID-19, the truth is we don’t have enough quality data – even with the results of this study, which are a small data set and only observational.

And a further issue is that the study didn’t look at the quality of people’s diets by assessing which foods they actually ate. This is another reason why it needs treating with caution. Self-declared diet types or food questionnaires may not capture information on the variety and type of foods eaten – for instance missing details about how much fresh or processed food someone eats, how meals are eaten and with whom. And as alluded to above, self-reported data on what people eat is also notoriously inaccurate.

The bottom line is: the name of what you call your diet is far less important than what you actually eat. Just because a diet is vegetarian or pescatarian doesn’t automatically make it healthy.

A table of friends eating a variety of food dishes
Eating a varied, balanced diet is a route to general good health. Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

For now, the robust evidence isn’t there to suggest that being vegetarian or pescatarian protects against COVID-19 – so there’s no need to rush to switch your diet as a result of this study. However, what we do know is that keeping active, eating a sensible healthy diet and keeping our weight in check helps to fortify us against a wide range of health issues, and this could include COVID-19.

Perhaps the best advice is simply to keep following general dietary guidelines: that is, that we should eat a variety of foods, mainly vegetables, fruit, pulses, nuts, seeds and whole grains, with few highly processed foods that are high in sugar, salt and fat.

Duane Mellor has written commissioned articles about supplements for Kinerva and he has supported the production of educational resources for the Vegan Society. He is a member of the British Dietetic Association and Association for Nutrition. He also chooses to follow a vegetarian diet.

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Government

Fauci Net Worth Soared 66% During Pandemic

Fauci Net Worth Soared 66% During Pandemic

The net worth of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s household soared a whopping 66% over the course of the pandemic,…

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Fauci Net Worth Soared 66% During Pandemic

The net worth of Dr. Anthony Fauci's household soared a whopping 66% over the course of the pandemic, according to new financial disclosures obtained by OpenTheBooks.com. Fauci reported a Jan 1, 2019 net worth of $7,523,634. By Jan 1, 2022, it had grown to $12,677,513.  

Values are as of Jan 1 each year. Chart via OpenTheBooks.com

As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Fauci was paid a 2021 salary of $456,028, making him the highest-paid employee in the entire federal government. His wife, Christine Grady, is chief bio-ethicist for the National Institutes of Health, does very well too, raking in a $238,970 salary last year.

Fauci is famously paid more than the president, and his wife collects more than the vice president. However, those hefty federal salaries aren't the only driver of the Fauci household's pandemic-era enrichment.

In 2021, Fauci was awarded the Tel Aviv University-affiliated Dan David Prize, which came with a $1 million check. The prize committee said Fauci "has been widely praised for his courage in speaking truth to power" during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The committee was apparently oblivious that Fauci was the power and routinely spoke falsehoods about everything from the usefulness of masking to herd immunity, the efficacy of vaccines, and NIH funding of gain of function research at the Wuhan Institute. 

As is customary, Fauci donated some of his prize money back to be awarded as student scholarships, but still pocketed $901,400, according to the financial statements reviewed by OpenTheBooks.com. 

Though it's chump change compared to the Dan David Prize, Fauci also scored $12,500 from both the Elliot Richardson Prize in Public Service and the Abelson Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and got $5,198 when he was named Federal Employee of the Year at the 2020 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals ceremony.  

Fauci even did some moonlighting as an editor for McGraw Hill, taking home $100,000 for his work in 2021. 

There's no indication Fauci made any "shrewd" investments a la Nancy and Paul Pelosi. According to the financial disclosures, Fauci's portfolio comprises broad mutual funds with no individual stocks: 

"These funds were held in a mix of trust, retirement, and college education accounts. Fauci has an IRA worth $706,219 (up $67,700); a defined benefit brokerage account totaling $2,551,210 (up $147,688); and a revocable trust worth $7,014,197 (up $1,718,299). His wife’s revocable trust is worth $2,269,225 (up $306,406) and an IRA totaling $136,662 (up $16,385)," reports OpenTheBooks.com. 

OpenTheBooks.com has filed four federal lawsuits against NIH to pry loose additional details not only about Fauci but also about royalties received by other NIH employees.  

Though Fauci has announced he'll retire by the end of the year, the wheelbarrows full of taxpayer money will keep on rolling his way. When you're the highest-paid employee in federal government history and you've been on the federal payroll for more than 55 years, that'll make for an astounding pension of some $375,000 a year. 

It's emblematic of the whole miserable Covid-19 spectacle: Bureaucrats wallow in government money while ordinary people suffer the ever-mushrooming destruction caused by public health's catastrophic lockdown and mandate regime.  

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/29/2022 - 23:20

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Spread & Containment

This Thanksgiving, Supplies Of Turkey, Eggs, & Butter Will Be Extremely Tight In The US

This Thanksgiving, Supplies Of Turkey, Eggs, & Butter Will Be Extremely Tight In The US

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse…

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This Thanksgiving, Supplies Of Turkey, Eggs, & Butter Will Be Extremely Tight In The US

Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,

If you love to cook, this upcoming Thanksgiving may be a real challenge for you.  Thanks to a resurgence of the bird flu, supplies of turkey are getting tighter and tighter.  Sadly, the same thing is true for eggs.  And as you will see below, reduced milk production is sending the price of butter into the stratosphere.  Thanks to soaring prices, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner will be out of reach for millions of American families this year, and that is extremely unfortunate.  Of course all of this is happening in the context of a horrific global food crisis that is getting worse with each passing day.  Yes, things are bad now, but they will be significantly worse this time next year.

The bird flu pandemic that has killed tens of millions of our chickens and turkeys was supposed to go away during the hot summer months, but that didn’t happen.  And now that the weather is starting to get colder again, there has been a resurgence of the bird flu and this is “devastating egg and turkey operations in the heartland of the country”

Turkeys are selling for record high prices ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday as a resurgence of bird flu wipes out supplies across the US.

Avian influenza is devastating egg and turkey operations in the heartland of the country. If just one bird gets it, the entire flock is culled in order to stop the spread. Millions of hens and turkeys have been killed in recent weeks. As a result, prices for turkey hens are nearly 30% higher than a year ago and 80% above pre-pandemic costs. Just as concerning are inventories of whole turkeys, which are the lowest going into the US winter holiday season since 2006. That means there will be little relief from inflation for Thanksgiving dinner.

In the months ahead, we could see tens of millions more chickens and turkeys get wiped out.

Egg prices have already tripled in 2022 and the price of turkey meat is up 60 percent.  Unfortunately, this is likely just the beginning

Turkey hens are $1.82 a pound this week, according to Urner Barry, compared to $1.42 last year and $1.01 before the pandemic. Meanwhile, wholesale egg prices are at $3.62 a dozen as of Wednesday, the highest ever, up from a previous record of $3.45 a dozen set earlier this year, said John Brunnquell, chief executive officer of Egg Innovations, one of the biggest US producers of free-range eggs. Consumers have seen prices for eggs at grocery stores triple this year, while turkey meat rose a record-setting 60%, according to a Cobank report.

Meanwhile, supplies of butter are steadily getting tighter as well

Lower milk production on U.S. dairy farms and labor shortages for processing plants have weighed on butter output for months, leaving the amount of butter in U.S. cold storage facilities at the end of July the lowest since 2017, according to the Agriculture Department.

Tight supplies have sent butter prices soaring at U.S. supermarkets, surpassing most other foods in the past year. U.S. grocery prices in August rose 13.5% during the past 12 months, the largest annual increase since 1979, according to the Labor Department. Butter outstripped those gains, rising 24.6% over the same period.

The trends that are driving up the price of butter aren’t going away any time soon, and so we are being warned to brace ourselves for “elevated” prices for the foreseeable future…

The forces at work in butter highlight the challenge of curtailing inflation. Economic pressures fueling high prices for livestock feed, labor shortages and other factors could persist, keeping prices for the kitchen staple elevated longer term.

To me, slathering a piece of warm bread with a huge chunk of butter is one of the best things about Thanksgiving.

And most of us will continue to buy butter no matter how high it goes.

But the truth is that rapidly rising food prices are forcing vast numbers of Americans to adjust their shopping habits.  Here is one example

For Carol Ehrman, cooking is a joyful experience.

“I love to cook, it’s my favorite thing to do,” she said. She especially likes to cook Indian and Thai food, but stocking the spices and ingredients she needs for those dishes is no longer feasible. “When every ingredient has gone up, that adds up on the total bill,” she said.

“What used to cost us $250 to $300 … is now $400.” Ehrman, 60, and her husband, 65, rely on his social security income, and the increase was stretching their budget. “We just couldn’t do that.”

The global food crisis is starting to hit home for many ordinary Americans, and we need to understand that this crisis is still only in the very early chapters.

David Beasley is the head of the UN World Food Program, and he is actually using the word “hell” to describe what is potentially coming in 2023

“It’s a perfect storm on top of a perfect storm,” Beasley said. “And with the fertilizer crisis we’re facing right now, with droughts, we’re facing a food pricing problem in 2022. This created havoc around the world.”

“If we don’t get on top of this quickly — and I don’t mean next year, I mean this year — you will have a food availability problem in 2023,” he said. “And that’s gonna be hell.”

The World Food Program keeps sounding the alarm, but very few of us in the western world seem to be taking those warnings very seriously.

People are literally dropping dead from starvation in some areas of the globe right now, and a new report that the WFP just released says that there are 19 “hotspots” where we could see a “huge loss of life” between October and January…

World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are out with a new report outlining countries that “are either already starving or on the brink of disaster.”

WFP and FAO found 19 hunger hotspots worldwide, with most countries in Africa, the Middle East, and even some in Central America. They call for urgent humanitarian action between October 2022 and January 2023 to avoid “huge loss of life.”

Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria, Yemen, and Haiti are labeled “hotspots of highest concern,” facing catastrophic hunger levels.

The sort of famines that we were warned about are already starting to happen right in front of our eyes, but most people simply will not care as long as they are not going hungry themselves.

What those people do not realize is that this global food crisis is going to continue to spread.

As supplies of food get tighter and tighter, prices will continue to soar and shortages will become more common.

We truly are in unprecedented territory, and the pain that is ahead will greatly shock all of the lemmings that just kept assuming that everything would work out just fine somehow.

*  *  *

It is finally here! Michael’s new book entitled “7 Year Apocalypse” is now available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.

Tyler Durden Thu, 09/29/2022 - 21:40

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Computers calling time on isolation

Kyoto–Across the world, many people infected with Covid-19 have been made to completely isolate from others in order to avoid passing on the infection….

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Kyoto–Across the world, many people infected with Covid-19 have been made to completely isolate from others in order to avoid passing on the infection. Some countries still recommend minimum isolation periods for as long as 10 days from when patients start to develop Covid-19 symptoms.

Credit: LAIMAN

Kyoto–Across the world, many people infected with Covid-19 have been made to completely isolate from others in order to avoid passing on the infection. Some countries still recommend minimum isolation periods for as long as 10 days from when patients start to develop Covid-19 symptoms.

Professor Shingo Iwami, affiliated with Kyoto University’s Mathematical Biology Laboratory at the Institute Advanced Study of Human Biology (WPI-ASHBi) says, “Although a long time for isolation reduces the overall risk of patients passing on the infection, there will always be patients who recover early and have to accept several days of redundant isolation while no longer posing an infection risk. We would like to calculate a way to reduce this unnecessary disruption in people’s lives as well as the broader losses for the economy.”

Writing in the journal Nature Communications, an international team of scientists, led by Iwami, has reported a simulation of the potential risks and benefits of ending an individual’s isolation early using antigen tests instead of isolating patients for a fixed time. They call for more sensitive and regular antigen testing to help reduce isolation periods for patients recovering from Covid-19.

The team decided to base their model on antigen rather than PCR testing, trading sensitivity for short turn-around time, low cost, and practicality. Iwami explains that although antigen tests do have a risk of generating “false-negatives” and fail to detect individuals who could still be infectious, there are clear benefits to getting results within an hour rather than waiting a day.

Their model accounts for the sensitivity of antigen tests as well as factors like the amount of virus in a patient that makes them infectious. These are then balanced against the acceptable risk of missing unrecovered and potentially infectious patients, by letting them out of isolation early.

Using their model, the team compared different scenarios to identify the best strategy. For example, the model projects that letting a recovering patient leave isolation after 2 consecutive negative results on 2 days in a row would spend 3.9 days of redundant isolation after their recovery. But under these conditions 1 in 40 patients would continue to pose an infection risk.

More conservative approaches might increase the burden on patients by requiring more than 2 consecutive negative test results of antigen tests.

Iwami says, “The epidemic has still not completely subsided, and we are living with a lot of uncertainty with regard to new variants of the virus. Antigen tests could help, but there is also a real need for worldwide systematic guidelines that simultaneously reduce risks and burdens. We hope this simulator will help doctors and policy makers meet those demands.”

******************
About WPI-ASHBi https://ashbi.kyoto-u.ac.jp/
Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Biology (ASHBi) was launched in October 2018 with funding from the World Premier International Research Center Initiative (WPI) Program of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The Institute inaugurated with 18 principal investigators (PIs) to create and promote human biology to elucidate key principles of human traits, including disease states. The Institute will perform interdisciplinary research between biology and mathematics (machine learning and topological data analysis) and between biology and humanities/social sciences (bioethics and philosophy on life), respectively. The Institute implements three research development cores for cutting-edge single-cell genome information analysis, primate genome editing, and non-human primate phenotype analysis, respectively. The Institute establishes a link with international institutions such as the EMBL, University of Cambridge, and Karolinska Institutet, creating a stratified organization for research promotion and strengthening its international profile.


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