Poor Diet & Coronavirus – How are they Connected?

Poor Diet & Coronavirus – How are they Connected?

A healthy, balanced diet is a major influencer in so many parts of our lives. Unfortunately, most of us are malnourished in some sense of the word and this has negative repercussions on our health. In fact, a March 2020 report on Food, Nutrition, and Health by leading federal scientists described a poor diet as “now the leading cause of poor health in the U.S.” and the cause of over half a million deaths every year. All of the major chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease (high blood pressure and high cholesterol are major contributors to CVD and are heavily dependent on diet), Type 2 diabetes, and obesity-related cancers can be tied back, in some capacity, to poor metabolic health.

sars cov 19

In an interview with New York Times writer Jane Brody, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Freidman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, dropped the horrifying statistic that “only 12 percent of Americans are without high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or pre-diabetes.”

But this is all stuff that we’ve been talking about pre-coronavirus. Now we’re examining the role that it plays in risk of contracting and coping with COVID-19. We now know that besides age, these chronic diseases are the biggest risk factors for illness and death from this virus. Why is that?

Characteristics of metabolic syndrome (including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, poor cholesterol, excess fat around the midriff, and high triglycerides) are all associated with mild inflammation throughout the entire body. This suppresses our immune system and makes us more vulnerable to things like infections, cancers, and of course, COVID-19.

The need to shut cities down and quarantine ourselves only causes greater risk. We’re not moving around as much if we don’t leave the house, some of us are relying more on canned and processed foods, and the stress of it all isn’t helping either. This challenge is even greater for poor communities of color, who are suffering the most during this pandemic. We need to address the social and economic disparities that are contributing to these poor health outcomes.

Category: Editorials
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