Eat Healthy, Anti-inflammatory Foods
One of the most important predictors of COVID’s severity are obesity and diet-induced dysregulated glucose metabolism, or insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is highly prevalent in the United States where our Standard American Diet (SAD) relies heavily on the consumption of highly processed sugar and grains. These processed foods force the body to produce more insulin to try to get the glucose into the cells to fuel the body and its multifarious functions. But eventually, the pancreas can’t keep up, and the sugar (glucose) builds up in the blood, where it is eventually stored as fat, if the glucose isn’t utilized to fuel the body.
This kind of metabolic overload evokes a stress reaction, or inflammation. Inflammation is activated by metabolic stresses, chemicals in the food, processed foods, inflammatory foods, and overtime starts an inflammatory cascade. Cytokines, are released by our immune system in response to ‘foreign invaders,’ or pathogens, like viruses. But too much glucose in the bloodstream can cause pro-inflammatory cytokines to be released as though responding to a ‘foreign invader’, or an infection.
Cytokines instruct the immune system to fight pathogens, but when the body is inflamed, it increases the risk of a cytokine storm, where the body’s immune response goes into overdrive causing tissue damage, and in the case of COVID can lead to death. That is why pre-existing conditions and metabolic dysregulation, like insulin resistance, are so dangerous in the face of COVID. If your body is already inflamed, COVID exposure could cause a cytokine storm.
The real “pandemic” are poor diet choices causing insulin resistance, which is the precursor to most chronic diseases: diabetes, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, some cancers, hypertension, fatty liver disease, Parkinson’s… Processed foods are the leading culprits. Added sugars, processed grains, industrial processed omega-6 vegetables oils, genetically modified organisms (GMOs). These are contributing to inflammation in the body, reducing our body’s ability to properly fight off ‘foreign invaders’ like COVID-19.
Our greatest defense against COVID is what is at the end of our fork. An anti-inflammatory, whole, real food diet, void of processed foods, is your greatest defense. (Read more here for ways to can clean up your diet.)
And yes, it takes work and dedication to change your diet, or any aspect of your lifestyle. But you don’t have to go-it alone. If you don’t know where to begin, set up a time to talk with me. I’m offering free 20 minute consultations and I have free resources to share.
We have contemplated many nights at home together during the last several weeks, how different the outcome of this pandemic would be if the prevailing message from mainstream media was about ‘stay home and take care of yourself’: eat real food, exercise, mediate, sleep, see friends/family in safe ways. Instead of the message of fear that has prevailed. What do you think the pandemic outcome would be if we shifted the narrative to ‘taking care of yourself?’
Reduce your risk by improving your health.
In Part 5, our final article in the series, we will discuss the benefits of movement.
In Good Health,
Dr. Ben and Allyson