COVID-19, DO YOU KNOW IF YOU ARE YOU AT RISK?
As we spend more time at home respecting social distancing, some of us equally struggle to keep a healthy distance from our fridge and maintain a healthy relationship with food.
The stress brought on by COVID-19 is putting even more pressure on us and emotional eating is sometimes our way to cope.
Because about 80% of our immune system lies in our gut, healthy eating and maintaining a healthy gut bacteria is even more crucial now than ever to stay healthy. Due to the importance of our digestive system in our overall health, it is often called our second brain.
Our gut bacteria or gut microbiome is greatly influenced by what we eat and also our stress level. The high sugar, highly processed, and low in nutrients American diet is known to be causing inflammation in the body and a less diverse gut microbiome which weakens our immune system and possibly makes us more prone to lifestyle diseases such as diabetes or heart disease.
At the end of April, an article in WebMD explored the very perplexing phenomenon of patients affected by COVID-19 and dying at a higher rate from heart attacks and strokes. WebMD states that doctors around the world are starting to notice that, when they draw blood from patients, the blood starts clotting in the tubes.
Dr. Poor, a pulmonologist and critical care specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City studied his patients’ lab results to find out that a pattern started to emerge. His patients showed a high level of protein called D-dimers which are generally left in the body when the body breaks up blood clots. This could greatly complicate COVID-19 patient treatment and increase even more their risks of complications. Blood clots are generally a high risk for critically ill patients or in any highly sedentary individual. Could this be the mere fact that, like for many critically ill patients, critically ill COVID-19 patients are not able to move and keep their blood flowing properly through their body or is there something else?
In France, a recent comparison between 150 COVID patients with respiratory failure in intensive care and 145 patients who had respiratory failure from another cause and were not infected by COVID-19 seems to indicate that there is a higher rate of blood clotting in COVID-19 patients.
“We still need more controlled data, but based on clinical observations and the few studies that have been published, it looks like thrombosis [blood clotting] is more common in these patients (COVID-19 patients)” declares one of the doctors.
Where are those blood clots coming from and why are people with COVID-19 more susceptible to blood clots is still a guessing game?
However, a few recent theories are starting to emerge… Could it be that the body in its defense mechanism launches an overzealous immune reaction called Cytokine storm causing an auto-immune reaction where cells kill themselves in an attempt to fight the virus and cause extensive damage to the body. This hyper-inflamed state is known to cause a higher risk for clotting.
In addition, a recent letter published in “The Lancet”, the oldest and best known general medical journal, is reporting viral bodies of VOVID-19 invading endothelial cells which are the cells that form our blood vessels’ lining. Those cells control various functions such as clotting and swelling. Various biopsies of bodies infected by COVID-19 show evidence of the virus in endothelial cells in various parts of the body and organs. Some doctors are starting to believe that COVID-19 appears to not just be a respiratory disease and could be a disease of the endothelium.
The body seems to be attacked on two fronts. It is being affected by the inflammatory reaction of someone’s auto-immune response as well as the attack of COVID-19 on the endothelium.
Those findings might help explain the reason why people with underlying conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease are hit harder by the virus since those conditions are already creating inflammation in the body and weakening of the endothelium.
Very often, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease can be managed or improved with lifestyle changes and diet. The reduction of inflammation in our bodies is key. Our first line of defense is to keep our lungs healthy by exercising regularly, but also limiting processed foods and increasing veggies and fruits in our diet. As a Certified Health Coach, I help my clients improve their eating and lifestyle habits to improve their overall health.
Because of the complexity of the disease and the fact that none of us has been exposed to this new virus, it is important to follow social distancing guidelines even after reopening of the country. We do not know how our bodies will respond to the disease.
In addition, CDC stats predict that “more than 34 million of people in the US have diabetes and out of those, 20% do not know they have it. “ Similarly, “more than 88 million US adults are pre-diabetic (1 in 3 Americans) and 84% of them do not know it!”
Considering this data, many of us could be considered high-risk and not know it. We can concentrate on what we can control and that is to do our part in improving our health by eating better as we have more time to cook and making better health choices!