The Mediterranean diet as a cure for coronavirus?
In March, news began circulating on the Internet that the Mediterranean diet was a "miracle cure" against coronaviruses. Several portals reported this, quoting Spanish physician Jose Manuel Fernandes Garcia, who said that "this diet will help the body cope with coronavirus infection" and that "more fruits, vegetables, green stuff, whole grains, cereals and unrefined products should be added to the diet”.
UNICEF’s young reporters decided to check this information out and found that this news was reported by the portal “Volim Podgoricu” (I Love Podgorica), “Krstarica”, “Ljepota i zdravlje” (Beauty & Health), as shown in the photos below.
Investigating the source of this information, we see that Jose Manuel Fernandes Garcia, a nutrition specialist from the Spanish Association of General Practitioners and Family Medicine Doctors, spoke to the Spanish media on this topic.
However, we decided to contact the Public Health Institute of Montenegro and ask them whether it was true that the Mediterranean diet (more fruits, vegetables and greens) would help the body cope with coronavirus infection, as reported by some online media quoting the Spanish medical doctor Jose Manuel Fernandes Garcia.
"Food has no specific effect on reducing the risk of disease. The best proof of this is the fact that the Mediterranean countries Italy and Spain are the most affected. The Mediterranean diet is part of healthy habits and healthy lifestyles, and as such, combined with a proper rhythm of life – regular sleep and reducing stress (as much as possible in this situation) can contribute to a better functioning of the immune system, although there is no clear scientific evidence for this." reads the response provided by the PHI to UNICEF's young reporters.
We also visited the World Health Organization’s website and found an article about this diet, which reads that the diet has a protective effect on cardiovascular diseases, as well as two types of diabetes.
From our research, we learned that this diet could have a positive effect on our health, and yet it served as no protection against coronavirus, so we came to the conclusion that this news was not true.
In an effort to contribute to preventing the dissemination of coronavirus misinformation and to promoting credible sources of information, UNICEF's young reporters have decided to check the accuracy of information published on social media and in the media that has attracted public attention. In verifying the accuracy of information, they have followed the example of the Public Disclosure Platform and partly used its publicly available methodology.