Letters to the Editor: Sept. 20 – Canon City Daily Record

Posted: September 20, 2020 at 5:54 pm

A silver lining to COVID?

A saying originating from a poem written in 1634, Every cloud has a silver lining, may very well apply to the COVID 19 pandemic. The data and research regarding coexisting medical problems that lead to severe complications and even death in COVID infected people should be a wakeup call to all of us.Early data coming from China and Italy revealed that those people most severely stricken with the virus had medical comorbidities. This was confirmed here in the USA as well. In the New York City area, 88% of those admitted to the hospital had more than 1 co-morbidity. The Italian study showed that 99% of those who died of COVID had another medical diagnosis. In fact, 48.5% had three or more comorbidities!

What is comorbidity? It is when someone, in this case, one who has coronavirus infection, has another medically diagnosed problem. The most common comorbid medical problems associated with COVID 19 are hypertension, obesity, diabetes, heart disease and asthma. Obesity is the most common risk factor for those under age 50. In addition, those with cancer and kidney disease, as well as poor immune function are at increased risk for more serious outcomes.

Sadly, in the United States, we have not done a very good job of providing health care. Seventy percent of Americans are overweight or obese. Paralleling the obesity epidemic is a rapidly growing number of those with diabetes and prediabetes. It is estimated that 120 million of us are diabetic or prediabetic and many dont even know it.

So where does the silver lining come into play? It is estimated that 80% of our comorbid conditions are due to our lifestyle. Lifestyle is the most common cause of these diseases, not our genetics! Risky behaviors like smoking and drinking too much alcohol, lack of exercise, stress, poor sleep patterns and eating the standard American diet are modifiable lifestyle behaviors. In an article published in The Journal of the American Medical Association a few years ago, the authors research concluded that our diet has surpassed cigarette smoking as the No. 1 cause of premature death. The good thing is that these lifestyle behaviors are all within our own control.

The American Academy of Lifestyle Medicine recommends that we all eat a predominantly whole food plant-based diet that restricts meats, dairy, chicken and eggs. This is an anti-inflammatory diet high in nutrients, antioxidants, and flavor. It is a low caloric great tasting diet. Check the internet for plant-based recipes of your favorite foods. There are thousands of options so you shouldnt have any trouble finding some that your whole family will crave.

My hope is that everyone will use this pandemic as a catalyst to take a look at our own health and lifestyle habits and start a journey to being the healthiest you can be. Caution. Eating healthier, going to bed at the right time and exercising daily may affect the bottom line for the pharmaceutical industry!

Brian Dodds, M.D.,

Caon City

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Letters to the Editor: Sept. 20 - Canon City Daily Record

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