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Posts Tagged ‘COVID-19’

To say the pandemic of 2020 took a toll on our normal lives is an understatement. Routines were wrecked, and we may have had too much time without any foreseeable outlet. With many families now at home, the pitter-patter of little or big feet may have halted peace and quiet.

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Each of us had different experiences, but one common factor for many was unwanted weight gain. Already a national pandemic by itself, weight gain exacerbated problems. Nearly 70 percent of the US population is overweight. About half of those are obese. Obesity, an underlying factor in many diseases, now has Covid-19 added to the list. Those with excessive weight, especially if plagued with other serious health conditions, are much more vulnerable to contracting Covid-19.

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Research published by JAMA Network Open found that in early months of the pandemic, many gained an average of 1.5 to 2 pounds per month. That adds up in a hurry. The Annals of Internal Medicine reported on the perils of restricted activities. With lost paychecks and concerns about how to afford the next meal, thoughts of exercise faded away. Not everyone had space to make a walking track through their household to help maintain step counts.

However, limited space is only one aspect for weight gain. Many became discouraged, depressed, and lonely—not good motivators for exercise or losing weight. Just getting out of bed may have proved a challenge, not to mention the shear obsession of becoming Covid-19’s next victim. Problems experienced during lock-down affected us differently. Many on the road to a healthful weight slipped into former overeating patterns. In times of stress, many regressed to less healthy foods, whatever those might be. Snacks became more prevalent and less nutritious. Some filled extra time with excessive eating or indulgences in larger portions sizes.

The question is, “What can we do?” Now that many venues have reopened, perhaps we can return to at least some normal activities. Whatever the cause, we can start over. Here are a few guidelines to help.

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  • Assess where you have strayed from healthy eating and analyze the exact reasons why.
  • Determine ways to cope with problems you can’t change.
  • Seek ways to change the circumstances you can control that interfere with good food choices.
  • Set tentative goals. The sun still comes up even if you miss your mark. Try again. However, indifference pushes you farther from where you want and need to be.
  • Set a specific time frame to assess your progress.
  • Find a partner if possible, even if you can’t encourage each other in person. Just sharing difficulties, frustrations, and successes can help.
  • Get back on track. Covid-19 changed our world, but it doesn’t have to define us. Whatever the unpleasant and hurtful experiences, focus on ways to move forward instead of dwelling on the negative past.

You are worth it. You can do it.

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Additional help for confronting unhealthy weight and other issues.

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Most describe 2020 as an extraordinary year they are happy to see end. We look forward to new beginnings. Perhaps we have set new goals or revised old one for 2021. One thing is sure, most of us had no idea at the close of 2019 how much 2020 would impact our lives. As we reflect on a year of illness and death, we also remember riots and national chaos. And who can forget a divided nation enduring the conflict of a contentious election.

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But was there anything good to remember? Some of our family members contracted Covid-19 yet sustained mild symptoms and rapid recovery. Thousands of people weren’t so fortunate. I recall a pantry stocked full of abundant food supplies, ever mindful of many who went hungry because of limited funds to feed their families. With multiple reasons for caution, I worship in a different way. Inspiring spiritual messages from social media or television have replaced attendance within church walls. Hopefully, the pandemic has caused others to take advantage of alternate means to worship God if unable to visit with local congregations.

And how does all this relate to my blog title of Food from the Garden? We live within city limits on a rather large lot where we attempt to grow a few fruits and vegetables. Although we are poor farmers by most standards, a few plants survive. Kale and mustard greens, highly nutritious foods, seem to thrive in our poor soil. Whether a city dweller or otherwise, in the new year, try your hand a placing seeds or plants in flower beds or pots if you lack space for a small garden. As shoots of varied greens grow several inches, break off a few tender leaves for a salad or to cook. Check a few days later for more fresh shoots. They will produce throughout the summer.

From time to time, other foods do well, especially strawberries. They make nice borders or ground covers in sunny areas. The list of fresh fruits and vegetable to grow in unusual places is limitless.

But new beginnings are about more than food. Assess your personal situation for a healthier happier new year.

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  • If you lost loved ones this past year, think of ways you can honor their memory. What did they cherish that can bring fond recollections? Maybe a sunset/sunrise, smelling the scent of special flowers, preparing or enjoying a special food, and endless opportunities and activities can bring pleasant thoughts for which you can be grateful they were a part of your life. Be positive instead of sad or negative.
  • Evaluate your own health. If you haven’t contracted Covid-19, consider ways you may help keep it at bay. Take the vaccine, eat healthier foods, lose weight appropriately (yes, weight is a major factor in the disease), and many other ways to get or stay healthier.
  • Keep a positive attitude. That’s hard when you have lost a job (I know), but look around to help others, even with an encouraging word. Focus on the future, and always consider those things for which you can be thankful.
  • Get to know the God who loves you and cares about your well-being. Talk to Him and contemplate what He may want you to learn from this experience. Seek to rely on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Don’t expect a revelation overnight. That may or may not happen but, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take” Proverbs 3:5-6.

None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but God reassures us by His words in Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’”

January 1, 2021 begins a new year. With divine help, make a good start and maintain hope whatever the year brings.           

A happy new year to all and God bless!

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In March 2020 at the onset of Covid-19 within the US, 14 states reported that about 90 percent of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 had one or more underlying conditions. The most common health problem was hypertension (49.7%), while obesity (48.3%) ranked second. Obesity is a major risk factor for contracting Covid-19, but why?

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To comprehend the relationship between obesity and Covid-19, it’s important to understand the hormone leptin. Leptin, from the Greek word “leptoes” which means thin, is a hormone that regulates the appetite by reducing hunger and helps to regulate energy balance.

The relationship of obesity to leptin surfaced in the mid-1990s. Leptin signals the brain when we are full and to stop eating, and possibly at the same time, it increases energy expenditure. At first, it seemed a possible panacea for the treatment of obesity. Although a slight increase in leptin reduces the appetite and can be a major factor in weight loss, excessive leptin doesn’t have the same effect.

Most leptin is produced in fat cells, but some are also produced in lung tissues. In diet-induced obesity, fat cells produce leptin in large quantities. The more obese a person, the higher the levels of leptin. However, a quirk within the cells not completely understood, results in a detrimental effect from too much leptin and causes the obese to become “leptin resistant.” Therefore, they lose little if any weight. How does leptin-resistance impact the obese in this pandemic virus?

Not only does leptin regulate energy balance within the body, interactions between the nervous and endocrine systems, and metabolism (chemical reactions within cells to maintain and sustain life), it is involved in regulating cells that fight infection—our immune system. Molecules of the hormone leptin are trapped in the fat cells. These highly ineffective leptin levels can result in chronic inflammation thereby increasing susceptibility to infections and autoimmunity including Covid-19. 

Individuals with obesity also are prone to hypoventilation (inadequate oxygen levels caused by breathing at an abnormally slow rate) which results in high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the blood and not enough oxygen. High leptin levels in the obese cause the body to produce more blood CO2 levels during the day that cannot be attributed to other factors or conditions.

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Covid-19 has proven once again that medical issues more frequently arise in those with diet-induced obesity. Statistics show that in the US, nonwhites have higher rates of obesity. While many consider this a societal problem, it is also an individual issue. With nearly seventy percent of Americans overweight and more than half of those obese, each of us is responsible for maintaining a healthy weight. Eating healthier foods helps deter obesity and is a win-win for everyone. Educating society, especially those with obesity, to consume fewer calories and make wise choices when eating may well be a good option to combat Covid-19.

         

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March 2020 has been a unique month. Questions about the coronavirus remain. While those with preexisting conditions seem more susceptible, why are younger, seemingly healthy people dying? I don’t know the reason, but like all Americans, I remain hopeful scientists will soon have that answer.

In his article, “Americans Unfit to Fight a Pandemic,” Dr. Rami Bailony wrote in Medpage Today, “While the public health focus has been on isolation and sanitation to slow the spread of the [COVID-19] virus, one thing we are not talking about is how our baseline health as a country makes us more susceptible to not only getting the virus but also succumbing to it.” Why does he feel that way (and I agree)?

After viewing a picture sent to him from a Costco store, Dr. Bailony made several observations about what many Americans deemed as needed foods to keep them sequestered at home. Not only did standing in long lines exacerbate the contagion problem, but he was shocked by what filled people’s carts. “From cart to cart I saw boxes of soda, chips, candy bars, and a whole lot of frozen chicken wings.” He called it a bandage-based approach to health and disease. Below I have summarized the five foundational cracks he believes make the coronavirus more deadly.

  • Failure to address the obesity epidemic. With obesity approaching fifty percent of the population, we have opened the door to greater risks for infection. As Bailony points out, obesity increases risks for respiratory infections and unfortunately, the severity of those infections. During the H1N1 epidemic, sixty-one percent of individuals who died from that condition were categorized as obese (BMI ≥30). Bailony cited other studies which showed that “people who struggle with obesity have cellular defects in certain immune cells that contributed to higher mortality.”
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Only fifteen percent of us over age sixty-five are physically active. Moderate-intensity exercise improves immune function and has the potential to reduce the severity of respiratory viral infections.
  • Lack of enough whole fruits and vegetables. More and more scientists prove that Mom was right, “Eat your vegetables.” These foods enhance our immune response. Less than ten percent of our population eat the recommended daily intake of vegetables. Why? Like the many foods we eat that aren’t as healthy, much of it is a matter of habit. It’s also a matter of acquired taste. If you don’t like a vegetable prepared one way, try another. I have been surprised when vegetables I didn’t especially like became tasty delights when I prepared a different way.
  • Defeated by psychological stress. Some surveys indicate that on any given day, more than fifty percent of Americans suffer acute or chronic stress. Bailony states that “in 2018, a third of Americans visited a doctor for stress-related conditions.” Stress is a known risk factor for obesity. Also, it has been associated with decreased antibody response to influenza vaccine.
  • Preparing for the next epidemic. Check the news on any day since the outbreak of the coronavirus in America. Someone (or many) blame lack of preparedness from the government and the healthcare system. Meanwhile, way too many disregard guidelines given early on. Abuse and disregard of orders to stay home, practice social distancing, and wash hands has moved our nation into perilous times. We don’t listen, and sadly, many don’t care. Unfortunately, some of those same individuals have succumbed to the illness not to mention the many they may have infected that caused multiple deaths.

So, before we blame government and the healthcare system for unpreparedness, perhaps we should look in the mirror and determine if we are part of the problem based on weight, eating patterns, and lifestyle. Let’s stay safe and do our part in overcoming this pandemic.

Note. Readers may be unable to open the link without subscription to Medpage Today.

 

 

 

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