By: Information Source - Boston Globe by Dr. Mark Hyman andDr. Dariush Mozaffarian
The following information was sourced from an article written in the Boston Globe by Dr. Mark Hyman who is head of strategy and innovation at the Cleveland Clinic Centre for Functional Medicine and Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, Dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
In the article titled "The link between coronavirus deaths and those French fries", author Dr Hyman states that many Covid 19 hospital admissions and deaths could have been avoided had the American people had a better diet and better metabolic health.
In Australia, our comparatively low numbers of Covid 19 hospital admissions are thanks to the quick action of Federal and State Governments to shut down public venues, group gatherings and enforce social distancing. Had they been slower to act we might have been dealing with an entirely different fate because, like America, the majority of Australians have a poor diet and suffer from a range of metabolic health conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or high cholesterol: Two thirds (67.0%) of Australian adults are overweight or obese and they are four to six times more likely to be hospitalised from this virus than otherwise healthy adults.
Firsthand experience of doctors and scientists on the frontline of Covid 19 in hospitals in the US. are discovering two common characteristics among many of those who are losing their battle to Covid 19: They are overweight or obese and suffer from a chronic disease. Ninety four percent of deaths from COVID-19 at the Mercy Medical Center Hospital in Springfield US, were in people with an underlying age-related chronic disease, mostly caused by excess body fat. While some otherwise healthy individuals with COVID-19 are hospitalised with Covid 19, the vast majority of hospitalised patients are overweight or suffer from a diet-related chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, or cancer.
The common factor in chronic diseases and obesity is a poor-quality diet; excess consumption of highly processed high -starch, sugary, low nutrient foods. Chronic disease from poor diet alone globally kills 11 million people a year. It is the single biggest cause of death and it is preventable.
Poor diet, excessive consumption of alcohol and other lifestyle behaviours such as lack of exercise and smoking cause inflammation, which, when introduced to Covid 19 is, as described by Dr Hyman, like putting gasoline on a fire . The inflammatory explosion causing the body to attack its own tissues and cells is known as the "cytokine storm" and is a major driver of the need for hospitalisation, admission to ICUs, ventilator use, and death.
It all sounds horrific but there is a silver lining to this Covid cloud and that is that we can do something about it. Anticipating a second wave and the likelihood that this virus may not be eradicated we can take control of our health and adjust our diet and lifestyle behaviours. Cut out the junk food and highly processed packaged products and eat plenty more fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and wholegrains and quality lean proteins. The argument that a healthy diet is too expensive does not stack up when you consider where our country is today.
If we want to keep the curve flat, protect our economy, and be more resistant to future pandemics, it is imperative we reduce diet-related chronic disease and obesity here in Australia and across the world.