Metabolic health may be broadly defined as how well or poorly your body processes and stores the nutrients (or anti-nutrients) provided by what we eat and drink, our diet, and the impact this has on our bodily functions.
Research shows that those with poor metabolic health are more likely to suffer from more severe symptoms and complications should they become infected with the Sars-CoV-2 virus.1,2,3
There is also a growing amount of observational and anecdotal evidence to show that those who are metabolically healthy develop much milder symptoms and recover quicker.
Someone may not be overweight, but still be metabolically unhealthy, it is what is going on under the hood that matters. Therefore, it is necessary to undertake a few blood tests and an MRI or Dexa scan, if available, to gain a more accurate impression of metabolic health.
Of course, given current circumstances, arranging blood tests and scans can be tricky. That said, studies would show that most people could improve their numbers, so there is no harm in taking some steps towards improving your metabolic health.
To improve your metabolic health, it is recommended by health and nutritional experts that you:
In addition to dietary tweaks, regular movement, avoiding prolonged periods of stillness and exercising at a moderate intensity level for 2-5 hours per week will also improve metabolic health markers.
Not only will improving metabolic health improve your chances of experiencing a milder dose of Covid-19, but it will also prime your immune system, making a favourable response to a vaccine more likely.
By Simon Coghlan MSc, BSc Physio, DipMedAc
1. Stefan N, Birkenfeld AL, Schulze MB, Ludwig DS. Obesity and impaired metabolic health in patients with COVID-19. Nature Reviews Endocrinology. 2020 Jul;16(7):341-2.
2. Favre G, Legueult K, Pradier C, Raffaelli C, Ichai C, Iannelli A, Redheuil A, Lucidarme O, Esnault V. Visceral fat is associated to the severity of COVID-19. Metabolism. 2021 Feb 1;115:154440.
3. Zheng KI, Gao F, Wang XB, Sun QF, Pan KH, Wang TY, Ma HL, Chen YP, Liu WY, George J, Zheng MH. Obesity as a risk factor for greater severity of COVID-19 in patients with metabolic associated fatty liver disease. Metabolism. 2020 Jul;108:154244.
4. Taubes G. The case against sugar. Anchor Books; 2017 Dec 5.
5. Shanahan C. Deep nutrition: Why your genes need traditional food. Flatiron Books; 2017 Jan 3.
6. Perlmutter D. Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar-Your Brain's Silent Killers. Hachette UK; 2014 Jan 16.
Image by Mary Pahlke from Pixabay