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How blood sugar impacts immune response to COVID-19


(KRON) – As we learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become increasingly perplexing why some people who contract the virus have severe symptoms or lose their life — while others have mild symptoms or none at all.

Our health expert, Karen Owoc, is here to explain what the scientists are now beginning to discover.

Blood Sugar Can Predict Likelihood of Death

  • Blood glucose (the key component) impacts your immune response to COVID-19.
  • In a study of patients in Wuhan, China, the hospitalized COVID-19 patients with the highest blood sugar levels had the worst outcomes, and it was predictive of their likelihood of dying from the virus.

How Blood Sugar Affects Immune Response to COVID-19

  • Prolonged high blood sugar causes chronic inflammation.
  • High blood sugar is linked to an out-of control inflammatory immune overreaction (cytokine storm) — often ending in death.

Ethnicities at Increased Risk

  • Several studies have shown African Americans and South Asians are at an in-creased risk of death from COVID-19.
  • Possible reasons may be due to their ethnic differences in how they metabolize glucose.
  • African Americans: 60% more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes than non-Hispanic whites.
  • South Asians: Up to 6X more likely to have diabetes than the general population.

Risks for Overweight, Healthy Weight, and Younger Age Persons

  • Even people who are young and healthy, yet overweight, have a higher risk of being hospitalized with serious symptoms.
  • Unhealthy blood sugar responses are associated with being overweight, but the studies show that people at a healthy weight can still have a dysfunctional immune response which increases their likelihood of contracting COVID-19.
  • People who have diseases linked to diet (e.g., cardiovascular disease and diabetes) have an increased risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19.

Use Diet to Reduce Inflammation and Improve the Immune System

  • Blood sugar levels change after eating and everyone responds differently to the food they eat (even identical twins who share 100% of their genes). Researchers explain that’s why people may respond differently to COVID-19.
  • Avoid inflammatory foods:
  • Saturated fats (animal fats and tropical oils)
  • Refined sugars (carbohydrates)
  • Eat lots of high-fiber foods:
  • Slow the breakdown of starches, so they don’t spike your blood sugar.
  • 80% of your immune system is in your gut. The healthy gut bacteria feed on fiber and keep the good and bad bacteria in healthy balance.

Use Exercise to Improve the Immune System

A stronger immune system will improve your position when fighting the virus.

  • Exercise can lower blood glucose because your working muscles require glucose to perform work.
  • Exercise increases circulation. White blood cells and antibodies circulate more rapidly and detect and target microbes sooner.
  • Exercise raises body temperature (working muscles produce heat) which may help kill germs.

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