Beyond COVID-19: Health and immunity
By Wendy M. Henrichs
Board Certified Chiropractic Pediatrician and nutrition counselor
As some of the social distancing restrictions are lifted and we start interacting more, the state of your health has never been more important. Conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, chronic lung disease and diabetes play a significant role in the severity of COVID-19 infections. Whether it is SARS CoV-2 or any other virus, your health as a potential host can be controlled. All these conditions are a result of a poor lifestyle and ultimately poor health. The good news is you can start today to change the state of your health.
Your diet or what you eat plays a key role in your overall state of health and the state of your waistline. Nearly 70% of Americans are overweight or obese. Obesity is a major risk factor for hospitalizations from COVID-19 especially in the younger age group. Obesity is linked to a wide range of inflammatory health problems such as diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions. Obesity causes chronic low-grade inflammation and an increase in circulating, proinflammatory cytokines. Cytokines via the “cytokine storm” play a role in worst COVID-19 outcomes. All the chronic conditions noted in the graphic lead to inflammation. Diet also plays a large role in combating inflammation which is a silent suppressor of your immune system and your brain. You may be suffering from inflammation and not even know it.
Eating a diet rich in organic vegetables and fruits (check out www.ewg.org for the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen), organic meats and poultry, wild game, wild caught fish, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds will decrease your risk for cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, as well as combat inflammation.
Exercise is another big winner in decreasing your risk for hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic lung disease and aids in preventing inflammation.Exercising for 20 to 30 minutes per day and 150 minutes per week, is one of the best ways to prevent all forms of chronic inflammation.Exercising for only 20 minutes suppresses the production of cytokines, a compound that activates inflammation. Exercise can also prevent and reverse obesity. Exercise plays a key role in managing your stress hormone cortisol. We cannot remove all the stress from our lives, but exercise is an excellent way to manage it and you will also have the added benefit of preventing depression.
If you have one or more of the major risk factors related to poor outcomes, hospitalizations, and death from COVID-19 it is not too late to make a change. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store where the fresh and fresh-frozen items are located. Skip the processed foods, and foods with added sugar. Fill 2/3 of your plate with vegetables, 4-6 ounces of protein, and 1-2 tablespoons of good fats. Get up and move every day, working up to 150 minutes weekly, as every little bit counts. Strength train at least a couple of times each week with or without weights. Remember, it is never too late to make a shift in health.
Dr. Wendy Henrichs is a board certified chiropractor and nutrition counselor at Timber Land Chiropractic in Rhinelander. Visit TimberlandChiropractic.com, Facebook, or call 715-362-4852.