I wrote a tweet recently comparing the extraordinary global response to Covid-19 and the total lack of response to the millions of people who die each year because of metabolic syndrome. Several people replied that you cannot compare the two because one is infectious and the other is not. They suggested that we cannot do anything about the virus but we can all chose to improve our metabolic health. I wasn’t comparing the diseases; I was comparing the response to them. Metabolic disease will kill more people this and every year than Coronavirus but the authorities make no bold efforts to examine the reasons for those deaths.
There are a few important things to add to this debate.
- The majority of people who die from this virus are elderly and already have metabolic diseases. One of the most common of these is type 2 diabetes, which is avoidable with the correct diet. Metabolic disruption makes people more vulnerable to the virus.
- The best way for any of us to avoid succumbing to the virus, or fight it off without needing hospitalisation, is to have a first-class immune system. Several factors affect our immunity and the most important is diet.
- The virus causes death by attacking the lungs and causing respiratory failure.
Vitamin D: This study finds evidence that higher levels of vitamin D help to reduce respiratory tract infections. – Vitamin D for prevention of respiratory tract infections
Vitamin A: This study shows the importance of adequate levels of vitamin A for correct lung function. Vitamin A Deficiency and the Lung
Both of these vitamins are fat soluble and likely to be low in people on a low-fat diet. They can also be low in people on a vegetarian or vegan diet because the best sources are in animal-based foods:
Beef and lamb’s liver, salmon, tuna, mackerel, butter, cheese, eggs
Salmon, tuna, herring, sardines, eggs, lard and bacon fat.
Of course, the best source of vitamin D is from sunlight on our skin (without sunscreen). However, during a British winter, it is not possible to get enough sunshine to create adequate amounts of this essential substance and we have to get it from our diet. It is worth remembering that it is a cholesterol molecule that is converted to vitamin D in the skin. Eating a lot of plant sterols (or taking statins) will reduce levels of cholesterol and potentially lower our immunity.
Diabetes I mentioned earlier that many of the fatalities are among people with diabetes. This study shows why that may not be a coincidence. Glycolytic control: A mechanism to regulate influenza viral infection
This is a quote from the Abstract of the study: “As new influenza virus strains emerge, finding new mechanisms to control infection is imperative. In this study, we found that we could control influenza infection of mammalian cells by altering the level of glucose given to cells. Higher glucose concentrations induced a dose-specific increase in influenza infection.”
A low-carbohydrate diet, as recommended on this site, has many more benefits than just weight loss and reversal of type 2 diabetes.
Minerals Some trace minerals have a profound effect on the integrity of our immune systems. Three of the most important ones are thought to be Zinc, Iodine and Selenium. They only occur in decent amounts in whole, unprocessed foods. Processing greatly reduces the mineral content.
Zinc is quite well-known for fighting the common cold. It is found in meat, shellfish, lentils and beans, nuts, dairy and eggs.
Iodine is essential for thyroid function and the thyroid is important for immunity. There are few good sources of iodine but the best include cod, tuna, shrimp, eggs, dairy, iodised salt and seaweed!
Selenium is an antioxidant that we require in trace amounts. Too little causes problems but so does too much. It is better to eat healthy foods than take supplements that may provide too much. The best sources of selenium are brazil nuts, pork, beef, chicken, cottage cheese, eggs, mushrooms and spinach.
Good metabolic health, weight, blood sugar and an excellent immune system all come from eating the diet we evolved to eat: a low-carbohydrate diet of mainly animal-sourced protein and fat. What we eat can definitely improve our chances of fighting off the worst effects of Coronavirus. Why is the Chief Medical Officer not telling us this?