A couple of weeks ago, I published an article that was a summary of Chris Masterjohn’s recent book titled The Food and Supplement Guide for the Coronavirus. In today’s article, I am going to take a look at the link between good nutrition and general immune health, with an eye towards the Covid-19 pandemic.
If you have gone into a grocery store at any time over the past few weeks, you will have noticed that the middle aisles are often somewhat bare. People are stocking up on pasta, canned good, and other processed and boxed goods. Unfortunately, this is a poor strategy, but is not surprising given the society in which we live today.
High Blood Glucose Levels and Immunity
In the western world, we are facing a Type II Diabetes (T2D) epidemic. According to the CDC, nearly 100 million Americans have T2D or pre-diabetes. What this means is that blood glucose levels are out of control. Several research studies have shown a strong correlation between high blood sugar levels and immune dysfunction. Moreover, we know that high blood glucose is directly related to eating a highly processed food diet, which is what people are stocking up on during this pandemic.
Researchers have found that high blood sugar prevents immune cells from releasing disease-fighting proteins and enzymes. It also stops the process where immune cells fight off foreign invaders, such as viruses. High blood sugar is particularly impactful with respiratory illnesses such as Covid-19. In animal studies, high blood glucose is associated with altered lung structures, meaning increased permeability and collapsed tissue. When this happens, breathing becomes more difficult and the act of storing air in the lungs becomes compromised. This increases the susceptibility of getting a virus, such as influenza or Covid-19.
Sudeb Dalai, an infectious disease specialist and clinical assistant professor at the Stanford School of Medicine and Palo Alto Medical Foundation, is currently caring for hospitalized COVID-19 patients. In those with diabetes, he remarks, “we see much higher rates of skin, joint, bloodstream, urinary tract and respiratory infections including pneumonia. It’s particularly concerning in the current pandemic because they experience much higher rates of complications, respiratory failure and death.”
Obesity, Metabolic Disease and Immunity
Another health epidemic in the western world is obesity. The CDC recently reported that more than 40% of American adults are obese, and this over-fat state is also a significant risk factor for severe illness within the body. And it is not just obesity, but actually all other chronic metabolic conditions greatly increase the risk of getting sick and acquiring the novel Coronavirus.
In Italy, researchers have found that 99% of coronavirus fatalities were people who suffered from previous medical conditions. 75% of those who died had high blood pressure, 35% had diabetes and 33% had heart disease.
The chronic health issues of T2D, obesity, high blood pressure, etc. are all the result of poor dietary choices, and chief among those is eating too much processed food. Yet, Americans are scrambling to buy up every last box of pasta as a “survival tactic.”
Shebani Sethi, director of metabolic psychiatry at the Stanford School of Medicine and Silicon Valley Metabolic Psychiatry, “people are really doing a disservice to their health if they are stocking up on ultra-processed junk food and sugar. It increases inflammation, dysregulates the immune system, affects the brain and worsens mental health.”
Stop buying up all the pasta and breakfast cereals and hamburger helper. These products are not doing your immune system or general health any good. You need to be buying fresh and/or frozen fruits and vegetables, meat, fish and dairy products. I have written about this many times in the past. Shop around the perimeter of the grocery store and stay out of the middle aisles. You will lose weight, your health will improve (both mentally and physically), and you will just plain feel better and happier.