A whole food plant-based diet offers excellent defence against Covid-19, but it won’t stop you catching it, says international plant nutrition expert and researcher, Dr T Colin Campbell.

In a commentary released today, Dr Campbell says “consuming this diet does not mean we won’t get infected by the virus, but it should increase our defences to avoid the worst effects from the infection, and in doing so, help to flatten the curve of hospitalisations.”

His commentary, titled: “Our Most Important Defense Against COVID-19: Finding Hope through Scientific Evidence,” Dr Campbell says while social distancing and testing are ways of combating the disease, there was also a third option.

He recommends strengthening our immune system to fight the pandemic by using a diet of whole, plant-based foods including vegetables, fruits, whole grain cereals, legumes and nuts.

In association with the release of his paper, the nonprofit organisation PlantPure Communities has developed a free Global 10-Day Jumpstart programme aimed at flattening the curve through nutrition, starting on April 19th.

“It is well-known, Dr Campbell says, “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.

“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 can create more health than all the pills and procedures combined.”

He says the supporting evidence for this bold statement refers to the ability of the diet not only to 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.[1]

Under the current crisis, Dr Campbell says, the story is even more compelling.

“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.[2-4]

Just as he completed his commentary, Dr Campbell noted the publication of an article in the New York Times on the possibility of creating viral immunity through a traditional pharmaceutical approach.

However, in reference to his own work “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.”

In short, he says, a WFPB diet can:
1. Prevent, perhaps even reverse, the chronic degenerative diseases which make older individuals more susceptible to COVID-19 while
2. Simultaneously increasing immunity by inactivating COVID-19 itself.

Note: The article above is a shortened summary of Dr Campbell’s full commentary which explains the connection to all the references listed below.


  1. Campbell, T. C. & Campbell, T. M. I. The China Study, startling implications for diet, weight loss and long-term health. Expanded Version, pp. 290-291451 (BenBella Books, Inc., 2005).
  2. Muller, L., Meyer, M., Bauer, R. N., Zhou, H.-X., Zhang, H., Jones, S. et al. Effect of broccoli sprouts and live attenuated influenza virus on peripheral blood natural killer cells: a randomized, double blind study. PlosOne (2016).
  3. McAnulty, L. S., Nieman, D. C., Dumke, C. L., Shooter, D. A., Henson, A. C., Milne, G. et al. Effect of blueberry ingestion on natural killer cell counts, oxidative stress, and inflammation prior to and after 2.5 H of running. Appl. Physiol. Nutr. Metab. 36, 976-984 (2011).
  4. Majdalawieh, A. F. & Carr, R. I. In vitro investigation of the potential immunomodulatory and anti-cancer activities of black pepper (Piper nigrum) and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum). J. Med Food 13, 371-381 (2010).
  5. Campbell, T. C. Nutrition renaissance and public health policy. J. Nutr. Biology 3, 124-138, doi:DOI:10.1080/01635581.2017.1339094 (2017) (2017).
  6. Chen, J., Campbell, T. C., Li, J. & Peto, R. Diet, life-style and mortality in China. A study of the characteristics of 65 Chinese counties. (Oxford University Press; Cornell University Press; People’s Medical Publishing House, 1990).
  7. Cheng, Z., Hu, J., King, J., Jay, G. & Campbell, T. C. Inhibition of hepatocellular carcinoma development in hepatitis B virus transfected mice by low dietary casein. Hepatology 26, 1351-1354 (1997).
  8. Hu, J., Chisari, F. V. & Campbell, T. C. Modulating effect of dietary protein on transgene expression in hepatitis B virus (HBV) transgenic mice. Cancer Research 35, 104Abs (1994).
  9. Hu, J., Cheng, Z., Chisari, F. V., Vu, T. H., Hoffman, A. R. & Campbell, T. C. Repression of hepatitis B virus (HBV) transgene and HBV-induced liver injury by low protein diet. Oncogene 15, 2795-2801 (1997).
  10. Campbell, T. C., Chen, J., Liu, C., Li, J. & Parpia, B. Non-association of aflatoxin with primary liver cancer in a cross-sectional ecologic survey in the People’s Republic of China. Cancer Res. 50, 6882-6893 (1990).
  11. Chen, J., Campbell, T. C., Li, B. & Peto, R. Diet, life-style and mortality in mainland China and Taiwan. A study of the characteristics of 85 Chinese counties. (Harvard University, 1998).
  12. Mandavilli, A. Can you become immune to the Coronavirus? New York Times (2020).
  13. Salo, J. Over 99% of coronavirus patients in Italy who die had other health problems. New York Post Mar 18, 2020.

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