It comes as no surprise these days that our news cycles are dominated by COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. As we begin to understand more about who may be at the highest risk of hospitalization from, and ultimately succumbing to COVID-19, the importance of eating a healthy and balanced diet has become increasingly clear. Not sure how? Let me explain.
The Potential Link Between COVID-19 & Diabetes
Researchers in New York studied the characteristics of over 4,000 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and found that after being older than 65 years, having a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 40 was the strongest predictor of risk for being hospitalized. BMI is the ratio of your height to weight and is often used as a measure of obesity (BMI over 30) and severe obesity (BMI over 40). Although BMI by itself is not a perfect indicator of individual health status, the higher your BMI, the higher your chances are of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
Both diabetes and CVD have also been linked with poor outcomes from COVID-19. The same study from New York found that patients with pre-existing heart failure were 4 times more likely to be hospitalized, and patients with pre-existing diabetes were 3 times more likely to be hospitalized. In a different study, an analysis of 45,000 confirmed COVID-19 patients from China revealed that while less than 1% of otherwise healthy patients died from COVID-19, the fatality rate was 10.5% for patients with CVD and 7.3% for patients with diabetes.
We’ve always known that good nutrition is important, but eating right may be more important now than ever before.
The fact that COVID-19 can be more severe among those with obesity, CVD and/or diabetes is particularly concerning because a whopping 121.5 million Americans (nearly half the US population!) are estimated to have some form of CVD, over 30 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and another 88 million Americans have pre-diabetes. The US is also battling an obesity epidemic; 42% of Americans are obese and almost 1 in 10 are severely obese. Given these numbers, it makes a lot of sense to focus on how we can reduce the risk of developing these chronic diseases, and manage pre-existing diabetes and CVD.
The Importance Of A Balanced Diet For Disease Prevention
The good news is that eating a healthy and balanced diet goes a long way in helping to reduce the risk of chronic disease and to manage weight. But what exactly does this mean? In short, it means focusing on complex carbohydrates like whole grains, fruits and vegetables, incorporating nuts and seeds, choosing healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood, flax seeds and walnuts, and limiting consumption of highly processed foods, sodium, and added sugars.
Two studies published earlier this month in the British Medical Journal found that those who ate more whole grains, like brown rice and oatmeal, had a 29% less chance of developing diabetes over an average course of 24 years, and those who ate roughly one third cup more of fruits and vegetables had a 25% less chance of developing diabetes over 16 years.
Even before COVID-19 basically took over our daily routines, the burden of poor nutrition has been evident. Poor diet has been attributed to approximately 530,000 deaths in the USA in just 2016, and the top 6 dietary risk factors linked to death in the USA were low intakes of whole grains, nuts and seeds, fruit, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids, and a high intake of sodium. We’ve always known that good nutrition is important, but eating right may be more important now than ever before.
How Registered Dietitians Can Help
At Performance Kitchen, we make it easier for you to eat well and help with disease prevention. Our meals are designed by chefs, approved by Registered Dietitians, and handcrafted in small batches using minimally processed ingredients. We use whole grains, limit the use of sodium and added sugars, and make sure to include at least 1 cup of vegetables in all our dishes. Additionally, we cook all of our meals with avocado oil, which is a nutrient-dense oil with omega-3 fatty acids. We also have various meal bundles, like our 7-day meal plans based on either a 1200kcal, 1500kcal, or 2000kcal diet. Our in-store Registered Dietitians can also work with you to design a meal plan that meets all of your health and nutrition goals, whether they be losing weight, managing your diabetes, or simply finding convenient, delicious, and healthy meals.
This article is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding diet.
This article has been reviewed by a Medical Doctor, Dr. Robert Graham, for additional accuracy.