Written by Dr. Barry Sears on November 06, 2020
A significant, unrecognized problem in treating Covid-19 is in those who have the underlying condition of obesity. Covid-19 is an inflammatory condition and so is obesity. Obesity is also strongly associated with other existing medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease (including hypertension). This makes it more likely that you will become hospitalized once you are infected according to the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and the American Journal of Physiology.
The actual complications of Covid-19 result from the overproduction of inflammatory proteins known as cytokines. These proteins are the body’s first responders to viral infections. Unless their production is turned off, their continued presence in the body will prevent the immune system from repairing the damage caused by the virus as stated by Clinical Medicine. It is the uncontrolled release of cytokines that often creates a “cytokine storm” that causes the lungs, the heart, the kidney, the liver, and the brain to become damaged by Covid-19.
Can’t I Just Wait for a Vaccine?
Even if a vaccine is developed, obesity will also reduce its effectiveness as cited in Acta Virologica, Frontiers in Immunology, and Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics. In studies of patients being given the flu vaccine, both obese and normal-weight individuals made equal numbers of antibodies. However, the efficacy of those antibodies was significantly reduced in those who were obese. The reason is that the generation of antibodies is only the first step of a long and complicated immunological journey that is disrupted by on-going inflammation caused by obesity-induced inflammation. If you are obese, any antibodies you make from a vaccine will be far less effective in allowing your immune system to bring any viral infection under control.
What options do you have?
Losing excess body fat may be one of your best defenses because unless you do, even an effective vaccine (and that’s a big if) is not going to give much protection. The second is to reduce the likelihood of developing a cytokine storm by reducing overall inflammation in your body before you are infected. Finally, you can optimize your immune system to make it better able to mount an immune response should it be exposed to the virus.
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