What does diet have to do with COVID-19?

Most of us have concerns about the health and economic issues brought on by COVID-19 and the resulting circumstances. We are still discovering new information every day. 

The good news we already know about COVID-19 is that your likelihood of getting a serious case is relatively low and the underlying conditions that lead to a severe or deadly case have largely been identified. 

These include:

-chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma

-immunocompromised (after cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications)

-chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis

-liver disease

-serious heart conditions

-severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 40 or higher)

-diabetes

The positive side of this information is that nearly all of these conditions can be prevented, managed, or even reversed with proper attention and medical care.

Your health is in your hands! There has never been a better time to be proactive about wellness.

How do I reduce my risk?

You can be proactive about your lung health by quitting smoking and vaping, making sure the air in your home and environment is clean by letting in fresh air, keeping surfaces dust and bacteria-free, and eliminating any mold growing in your home.

At SW Family Physicians, we offer multiple solutions to help you quit smoking, including medication, patches, and hypnotherapy.

Kidney disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes are all inflammatory diseases that have insulin resistance as an underlying cause.

While reducing your insulin resistance is a process that will vary in time depending on your body, even just beginning the process is a step in the direction of shielding yourself against a serious case of the virus.

What is insulin resistance?

Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas that assists glucose (the main type of sugar in our blood and responsible for energizing our body's cells) in entering the cells of our body. Insulin resistance refers to a hormonal dysregulation causing higher-than-normal levels of insulin to be produced. As our cells become used to the elevated insulin levels, they become "resistant" to accepting the glucose without large amounts of insulin. The pancreas tries to make more and more insulin and can burn out. This is the process that happens when someone is prediabetic or diabetic.

Do you have insulin resistance?

You may have insulin resistance if two or three of the following is true:

-you have a fasting blood sugar greater than 100 mg/dl (prediabetes) 

-you have a blood pressure greater than 135/85

-your triglycerides level is greater than 150 mg/dl

- you have a hormonal disorder such as Cushing's syndrome or acromegaly

-your HDL is lower than 40 mg/dl for men or 50 mg/dl for women

-your waistline is greater than 40 inches for men and 35 inches for nonpregnant women.

If you are unsure what these numbers are for yourself, or you don't know what these measurements mean, it's a good idea to consult your doctor. Your doctor can give you a blood glucose and insulin test to determine how your body's glucose response indicates insulin resistance. Then the good news? Insulin resistance is treatable and possible to reverse!

How is insulin resistance reversed?

Reversing insulin resistance requires rehabbing the cells to encourage them to respond better to insulin. The best way to do this is to starve the cells of glucose by reducing your blood sugar levels.

For most people, this means a lifestyle change.

Your diet needs to be redirected towards low carbohydrates, high protein, and saturated fat, and away from sugars and trans fat. 

If you haven't been eating this way, there may be a lack of certain nutrients in your diet keeping your insulin and weight higher. Adding fiber, probiotics or vitamins and minerals to your diet may be advisable. 

This is the same process for reversing Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.

How can I improve insulin response?

Making changes in diet and activity can be difficult. The first step is to learn about what changes make the biggest difference for your body and why. You've already started on this step by reading this article! 

Your doctor can help you explore the areas of your life and diet that would be most effective in optimizing your health and lowering your insulin resistance. We encourage you to ask about your blood sugar levels at your next appointment.

If you are looking for additional support, a program like Oregon Medical Weight Loss and Wellness can walk you through your health journey. You'll begin with labs and a Glucose Tolerance Test and be able to discuss your results with a doctor. Based on your results, your medical provider will help you make a lifestyle and/or medication plan that works for you. Through the program, you'll also have access to educational classes where you'll learn to shop for and make the best foods for your health goal. You can learn more here: https://www.swfamilyphysicians.com/contents/oregon-medical-weight-loss

Conclusion

Better lung, heart and gut health are in your hands! What changes will you make today to become physically resilient?

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