COVID-19: A Nutritional Crisis
What an unprecedented year it has been. While much of the world has come to a halt during the pandemic, the need for improved health has never been more critical.
One of the facts disturbingly exposed during this pandemic is how sick America really is. Millions are afflicted by heart disease, diabetes or obesity—preexisting conditions that make the coronavirus so deadly. Suffering from two or more degenerative diseases makes someone 12 times more likely to die from covid-19.
The good news, as far as health is concerned, is improved eating habits. A September 2020 survey showed that since the pandemic started, 34 percent of respondents say they are eating more healthy food, and 87 percent say they’ll keep up that habit.
Improved nutrition is one aspect we cannot ignore in battling this virus. Healthy food is a main preventative not only to the underlying conditions of disease but in fortifying the immune system to play a robust role in covid-19 recovery.
covid-19 has put a spotlight on the important role nutrition has in supporting the immune system. Fewer than 1 in 5 American adults is metabolically healthy. A recent national report described a substandard diet as “the leading cause of poor health in the U.S.” and the cause of more than half a million deaths per year.
The statistics cast a glaring light on the fact that, like age, faulty nutrition is a huge risk factor for illness and death from covid-19. The characteristics of metabolic syndrome—including obesity, hypertension, high blood sugar or a poor cholesterol profile—suppress the immune system and increase the risk of infections, pneumonia and cancers.
While all diseases weaken us and make the coronavirus more harmful, in the early days of the pandemic, doctors noticed that obesity really stood out among many who were severely ill from covid-19. Nearly 80 million Americans suffer from this condition. Obesity doesn’t just widen the frame; some of its worst consequences occur inside the body, out of sight and out of mind.
Excess weight can compromise the ability of lungs to take in oxygen. It can lead to poor cardiovascular health, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, colon disease, arthritis and brain dysfunction. Obesity is also associated with impaired immune response, rendering the body susceptible to a range of bacterial, viral and fungal infections. covid-19 can cause lung complications such as pneumonia and, in the most severe cases, acute respiratory distress syndrome. Little wonder then that obese people are 113 percent more likely to be hospitalized with this virus and 48 percent more likely to die, states a study from the University of North Carolina.
While not a full synopsis of problems, this short list highlights the fact that ultra-processed foods are known to significantly increase the risk of obesity and other noncommunicable diseases. A diet of canned and packaged foods high in fat, sugar and salt is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation throughout the body that may be particularly dangerous when covid-19 provokes an overwhelming inflammatory response that disables the body’s ability to fight off pathogens.
Start now to “arm” your immune system to withstand attack by improving your nutrition.
Some parts of the immune system act as literal barriers, preventing viruses and bacteria from reaching organs, while others hunt and remove invaders from the body. A strong immune system improves recovery time and decreases risk of complications, especially if you have preexisting conditions, according to a Trends in Microbiology article.
Still, it’s important to note that nutrition is not an instant solution. The process of strengthening your body against covid-19 can take a while. Although some science shows that you can improve metabolic health in a short period, you cannot quickly unwind serious issues like diabetes and heart disease.
Focus on eating a variety of high-quality foods that build bodily resilience through increased nutrient intake, rather than choosing your meals strictly on taste and pleasure. Eat plant-based fibrous foods, plenty of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy fats, lean meat or fish, and a smaller amount of unrefined grains.
Nutrients identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron and protein, including the amino acid glutamine, according to Harvard.edu.
Other health laws you can take advantage of to stave off covid-19 are sleeping well, getting regular exercise and plenty of fresh air and sunshine, reducing stress, keeping hydrated, upholding cleanliness and hygiene, and maintaining a positive mental attitude.
Physicians might argue that the only recourse against this virus is a vaccine, but such medicinal faith is misplaced. God designed physical laws by which our bodies function correctly—laws we should do our utmost to abide by. Medicines, at best, can only treat some of the effects of a disease, but applied health laws eliminate the causes.
Your future health will depend in large measure on how diligently you apply the laws governing good health.