Mackie: Tips to reduce chances of the worst of COVID

These interventions can go a long way to support people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and pulmonary dysfunction, who are at higher risk to Covid severity.

NEW ORLEANS — In light of the ongoing, world-wide death rate attributed to Covid-19, combining a healthy lifestyle with recognized medical interventions – vaccines and medications – is critical to address the current and future pandemics.

Healthy interventions include physical activity, following an anti-inflammatory eating plan – emphasizing fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fish (Mediterranean diet) – minimizing the effects of Covid-associated stress (diminished social interaction), and developing healthy sleep patterns. 

These interventions can go a long way to support people with obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and pulmonary dysfunction, who are at higher risk to Covid severity.

Researchers from Spain, reporting in the December online issue of the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, highlight the role how holistic lifestyles interventions have proven to attenuate the effects of Covid-19 in the “exposome” – life-course exposures starting from the prenatal period onward.

Roughly one-quarter of the world’s population is considered inactive – not achieving 150 minutes of weekly, moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity.  Social distancing and lockdowns have only acerbated inactivity out of necessity. 

The Spanish researchers comment that, “regular PA (physical activity) is associated with a 31% and 37% risk reduction of community-acquired infectious diseases and subsequent mortality, respectively, compared to inactive controls.”  

According to their investigation, The Exposome and Immune Health in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic, “even just four weeks of either moderate-or high- intensity interval exercise can lead to a remarkable improvement in natural killer (NK) cell number and function (i.e., ‘killing capacity’).” 

The researchers further site evidence that, “elderly women who were physically active had a better immune response after vaccination than those who were less active.”

From a body weight management perspective, the worldwide prevalence of obesity has almost tripled since 1975, with 39% and 13% of adults now considered to have overweight and obesity, respectively. 

There is meta-analytical evidence, “that individuals with obesity are not only at greater risk of COVID-19 infection, but also of having a worse prognosis (higher risk of severe disease and mortality) than their normal-weight peers,” note the Spanish researchers. 

The researchers conclude that, “body weight management should be a key public health concern in the prevention/management of the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

Research have proven that when overweight individuals switch from a 14-hour eating window to ten to an eleven-hour eating duration over 16 weeks, they reduce their energy intake by 20% and demonstrated a reduction in body weight.

Simply stated, “due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory benefits, and its protective effect against predictors of morbidity and mortality in patients with COVID-19, such as CVD (cardiovascular disease), the Mediterranean diet could be a promising and relatively easy-to-apply method to attenuate the severity of SARS-CoV-2 and eventual future viral pandemics.”

While micronutrients, such as Vitamins A, C, B complex, and the minerals zinc and selenium deserve immune support recognition relative to Covid-19, Vitamin D may stand alone for its ability to provide adaptive and innate immune support. 

In fact, “there is evidence suggesting that vitamin D supplementation can have a positive effect on COVID-19 symptoms and severity. Compared with a lower dose (1000 IU), daily oral supplementation with 5000 IU of vitamin D3 for two weeks reduced the time to recovery of symptoms such as cough and gustatory sensory loss among mild-to-moderate COVID-19 patients with sub-optimal vitamin D status.”

Sleep disturbances have emerged, as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic – due in part to the early lockdown’s impact on sleep quality, immune function, and pro-inflammatory status. 

As it relates to vaccine status, research has determined that, “the short-term negative effects of sleep on the antibody response apparently disappeared from 3 to 4 weeks after vaccination, because antibody titers no longer differed among sleep-restricted individuals and those who maintained their usual bedtime prior to receiving the vaccine.

A solution is that regular exercise seems to improve sleep quality, which dovetails with the combined, positive effects of following a Mediterranean diet, not smoking, and taking a short-daily meditation break to replenish the mind.

While many researchers comment that Covid-19 and its spinoffs are with us for the foreseeable future, it’s somewhat reassuring that we can cope and live our lives with some normalcy. 

To read this study and more, go to and look for the open access research at the bottom of the home page.

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