Story after story crops up regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on people who have Type-2 Diabetes and/or are obese. The virus seems to affect people with these conditions regardless of age. Many times I’ve seen reports of a relatively young person (below 40 years old) with no underlying health conditions dying from the virus. Then when the show the photo of the person they appear to be obese.
What is the underlying cause of Type-2 Diabetes and obesity? Doctors on social media keep referring to “metabolic syndrome” and “metabolic health.” And it appears that this goes back to insulin resistance and the low carb movement in diet.
Carbohydrate consumption triggers a flood of insulin in your blood stream. The more this happens the more your body adjusts to having so much of it in your blood. This makes insulin less effective at doing its job thereby increasing the flow of insulin in your body. This leads to the viscous cycle in diabetics of increasing their insulin dosage to get their blood sugar levels down. Which in turn makes them less sensitive to insulin. Which in turn requires higher doses. The use of insulin is heavily tied to weight gain because glucose is removed from your blood and shoved into your fat cells.
So it may seem that the best defense against COVID-19 is to get our metabolic health in order. That requires reducing consumption of carbohydrates and highly processed foods. Getting back to the basics of meat and vegetables and cooking at home looks like the best treatment. It requires no pharmaceuticals and will help with weight loss. The best part is you don’t have to spend money on fancy diet books or weight loss programs.
Obesity may be one of the most important predictors of severe coronavirus illness, new studies say. It’s an alarming finding for the United States, which has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.
Though people with obesity frequently have other medical problems, the new studies point to the condition in and of itself as the most significant risk factor, after only older age, for being hospitalized with Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Young adults with obesity appear to be at particular risk, studies show.New York Times
But Dr. David A. Kessler, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has a simple message for people who want to keep their metabolic health and weight in check when temptation is just a few steps from their work space: Try to avoid eating foods that contain what he calls “fast carbs,” such as refined grains, starches, corn and sugar.
These foods, like bagels, bread, breakfast cereals, juices, tortilla chips and anything made with processed flour, tend to be highly processed and devoid of fiber. They are rapidly absorbed and converted to glucose in the body, causing blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and preventing the release of hormones that quench hunger. Over time, researchers have found, this pattern of eating can wreak havoc on metabolic health, leading to weight gain and increasing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, conditions that can increase the risk of complications from Covid-19.New York Times
Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) seems to be a risk factor for acquiring the new coronavirus infection. Indeed, T2DM and hypertension have been identified as the most common comorbidities for other coronavirus infections, such as severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV)1. According to several reports, including those from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), patients with T2DM and the metabolic syndrome might have up to ten-times greater risk of death when they contract COVID-19 (CDC coronavirus reports). Although T2DM and the metabolic syndrome increase the risk of more severe symptoms and mortality in many infectious diseases, there are some additional specific mechanistic aspects in coronavirus infections that require separate consideration, which will have clinical consequences for improved management of patients who are severely affected.nature.com
A recent commentary In Nature states that “patients with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome might have to up 10 times greater risk of death when they contract COVID-19” and has called for mandatory glucose and metabolic control of type 2 diabetes patients to improve outcomes. The authors also suggest making this a priority in ALL patients with COVID 19 will be beneficial. (12) It’s instructive to note that the disproportionate numbers of those from black and ethnic minority backgrounds succumbing to the virus may in part be explained by a significantly increased risk of chronic metabolic disease in these groups. For example, those of south Asian origin living in the UK type 2 diabetes is 2.5 -5 times more prevalent and three times more common in those of African-Caribbean descent in comparison to Caucasians.europeanscientist.com