Risk Factors COVID-19?

While we go through COVD-19, are we really questioning how we should be focusing on keeping healthy, rather than being obsessed with wearing our masks? I go to buy my groceries and see people picking up such junk and mostly sugars. It’s really sad, when I look into people’s shopping baskets and see what they are eating., and then when I look at them (sorry to say this) they are overweight. 

Long-standing or unknown metabolic syndrome which is a cluster of conditions (biochemical and physiological abnormalities) that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes (also referred to as cardiovascular disease-CVD or heart disease). The conditions that come under metabolic syndrome are: high blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal triglyceride and cholesterol levels. The WHO defined metabolic syndrome as impaired glucose intolerance or diabetes mellitus and/or insulin resistance together with one or more of the following conditions: raised arterial pressure, raised triglycerides, central obesity (i.e., waist circumference of less than 40 inches in men and 34.6 inches in women). Having any 3 of these together, puts you at a slightly higher risk for Covid-19. So, should we focus on what we can do bring these down if we are suffering with any parameters included in metabolic syndrome? You could also come under ‘comorbidity’ (co-occurring disorders) which is the prevalence of 2 conditions at the same time; which could be body or mind-related. For example, you could have diabetes and a malfunctioning thyroid; or dementia and anxiety at the same time. Another cause for concern is the ‘inflammation’ that people suffer from; I see this a lot in my profession. People with gut issues, leading to inflammatory markers being high and autoimmune disease. 

Will having at least 3 of the above-mentioned conditions put you at risk? The answer to that is YES. It has been estimated that this year CVD or cardiovascular disease will be the largest cause of deaths in India this year (hindawi.com: Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome in Urban India). As a nutritionist, I worry about all the people out there at a greater risk to get COVID-19; but also knowing that if their dietary habits were better, they would survive it. Our lockdown has happened because of this reason, if we were all healthy, we would not need to be locked in. Yes, we would have to take care of those elderly suffering with metabolic syndrome, or those with severe pulmonary issues, and children who are more susceptible to catching something. This is why COVID-19 emerges as a public health problem. When you land up at the doctor, he is treating underlying symptoms; but not what’s actually putting you at risk. 

It is said the older you get the more muscle mass you lose and the more the chances are of gaining weight, especially for women after menopause. Keep these 2 factors under-check. Sarcopenic (loss of muscle) obesity is also a risk factor. Also, another thing to keep in mind is those people who appear skinny, may actually have a high BMI (body mass index), excess body fat puts you at a greater risk of catching something. 

It is however, disappointing to see that even the Government is not really focused on outlining parameters on healthy nutrition; especially in a country like India subsidizing good food for the poorer lot (which we have in large numbers in this country). In my opinion, it’s extremely important to strengthen the gut, immunity and treat metabolic syndrome; and in India on a larger scale educate our poorer populations. 

So, what can we do to help ourselves get back on-track?

Check the following 10 things out –

  • What is your glucose tolerance test telling you?
  • What is your Hb1Ac? – average blood sugar over past 3 months
  • Do you have consistent high blood pressure?
  • Central obesity: If you are a man is your waist circumference under 40 inches, and if you are a woman is it under 34.6 inches?
  • What are your triglyceride levels?
  • What are your cholesterol levels?
  • What are your CRP levels (C-Reactive protein)?
  • Do you suffer with candida? (Read my books The Beauty Diet or The Detox Diet)
  • Check liver markers: ALT (appears as SGOT) AST (SGPT), ALP, albumin and bilirubin

On a food-front you can do the following that will start helping you –

  • Quit sugar (including jaggery)
  • Quit dairy and dairy products
  • Quit white refined carbohydrates
  • Eliminate sweeteners
  • Eliminate processed foods
  • Eliminate food that have additives and food colours
  • Minimize meat consumption
  • Eliminate refined oils
  • Eliminate xenoestrogens these are endocrine disruptors (these are compounds that mimic estrogen, especially in plastic, solvents used at home, make up, toxins around from industrial sites, insecticides, parabens [used in foods as preservative], lots of other preservatives in foods)
  • Quit smoking

Add the following foods (closer to nature and that are more natural) –

  • Whole grains like brown rice and millets
  • Lentils. Whole beans and legumes and tofu
  • Vegetables (specially coloured, leafy greens and greens)
  • Fruits seasonal and local
  • Fermented foods (pressed salads, quick pickles, sauerkrautkanji: lots of recipes on my Instagram page @soulfoodshonali on IGTV)
  • Good fats: through foods and cold-pressed oils (and ghee)
  • Nuts and seeds

Top it up with –

  • Turmeric (with some pepper)
  • A natural Vitamin C shot of lime daily
  • Green algae: spirulina

Regularize your lifestyle

  • Exercise: do both cardiovascular training and strength training (weights, pilates, yoga)
  • Sleep get your 8 hours of sleep
  • Do not skip meals – always eat on time
  • Do not skip breakfast
  • Stop snacking at night after dinner
  • Chew your food
  • Do a body scrub daily (there is a video on my Instagram @soulfoodshonali IGTV)
  • Have plenty of plants around, if possible
  • Do not cook food on high-heat (especially using refined oils; Indians are famous for this habit)
  • Meditate: Cultivate this important habit to be peaceful 

In conclusion, you can beat anything (including the Coronavirus) by working on your risk factors, and strengthening your immunity. This is entirely in your hands, something you have absolute control over, let’s take control of our lives!

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