Prevention is the Best Medicine: Diet, Exercise, Lifestyle & COVID-19

Nutritionist Marc Bubbs discusses the facts linking Covid-19 and the benefits of a healthier lifestyle to strengthen your immune system.

We’re in unprecedented times. The current covid-19 situation around the world is changing the way we look at public health and infectious disease prevention.

Reducing infection is not only about protecting yourself from exposure to the virus (via social distancing and wearing a mask in public/​crowded spaces) but also supporting a healthy immune response to combat the virus.

A growing body of research since the start of the pandemic has uncovered many strong associations between risk of infection, severity of infection and your health status.

Let’s explore the science.

1. Stress and Covid-19

The higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol upon admission to hospital dramatically increase your risk of dying from covid-19. Experts believe cortisol may be a marker of the severity of the illness.(1)

2. High blood sugars and Covid-19

In China, nearly half of the hospitalized covid-19 patients (without history of type‑2 diabetes) had high blood glucose levels. Alarmingly, this hyperglycemia was an independent predictor of mortality 28 days later.(2)

3. Obesity & Covid-19

A report from Public Health England suggests obese and very overweight individuals are at a greater risk of coronavirus death or serious outcomes.(3) Maintaining a healthy weight supports better blood sugars levels, lower cortisol and blood pressure.

4. Diabetes, High Blood Pressure & Covid-19

A new study re-analyzed the data on the effects on diabetes and hypertension on covid-19 progression. The researchers concluded, the prevalence of hypertension and diabetes is elevated in patients with COVID-19, patients with diabetes have increased risk for both death and ICU admissions, and that there is the potential for reverse causality of hypertension as a risk factor for COVID-19.”(4)

5. Low vitamin D and covid-19

Low vitamin D levels have also emerged as an independent risk factor for covid-19 infection and hospitalization. Unfortunately, adding a supplement does not provide added protection, however experts cite vitamin D levels as a proxy for health status’ and thus an opportunity to address diet, exercise and lifestyle changes.(5)

What do these five factors above – stress, high blood sugars, high blood pressure, weight gain and obesity and low vitamin D – have in common? 

Collectively, these biomarkers serve as a proxy for poor health’.

Like the lights on the dashboard of your car instructing you to change the oil or check the engine, these are clear signals that your metabolic engine’ is not running well and you could benefit from improving how you eat, move and lifestyle factors (like sleep and stress management) to support better health.

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Nutrition plays a key role in supporting better blood sugar levels, ideal weight and better health. Ultimately, this leads to a higher quality immune response and reduced risk of adverse outcomes from covid-19 infection. 

Now is the time to take back your health. Changing your diet doesn’t mean you need a complete overhaul of how you eat. The key is to simply nudge’ your nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes in a positive direction and build the habits to stay consistent over the long-term.

A small investment in how you eat yields great dividends down the line in your health and wellness. 

Dr. Marc Bubbs, ND, MSc, CISSNCSCS