In her weekly column, Bradford West Gwillimbury licensed nutritionist Nonie De Long explains the most powerful thing you can do for protection from COVID-19 mortality.
Thank you for the recipes last week! I’m interested to know what is understood up till now about treating coronavirus holistically.
Thank you, Suzanne from East Gwillimbury
Dear Suzanne from East Gwillimbury,
Thank you for the question. Of course, we are all trying to do what we can to avoid this virus, but it’s also important to talk about treatment. I wrote an article on March 15 about boosting immunity holistically for coronavirus preparedness and I would first like to point you to that. The answer to your query is tricky. We don’t have studies on natural therapies, except high dose IV vitamin C, in treating COVID-19 as of yet. You can read more about the therapy here. As the March 24 column points out, the exact protocol is based on similar treatments in people with the coronavirus in Shanghai, China, where “The patients who received Vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,” according to the lead physician, Dr. Andrew G. Weber (pulmonologist and critical care specialist). Dr. Weber went on to say, “It helps a tremendous amount, but it is not highlighted because it’s not a sexy drug.” Corroborating reports on the vitamin C therapy can be found in The New York Times and The Dr. Wrath Health Foundation.
Readers may not know this is actually orthomolecular medicine. The term was coined by Linus Pauling. Pauling was an American chemist, biochemist, peace activist, and more. He theorized about the importance of vitamin C in high doses for optimal human health. The megavitamin therapy was taken up and developed clinically by Canada’s Dr. Abram Hoffer (biochemist, physician, psychiatrist). Dr. Hoffer is the person who first introduced me to nutrition and vitamin therapies for mental health conditions. Those interested can read more about orthomolecular medicine here.
The problem with finding data on holistic therapies for COVID-19 is twofold: the virus is new and the current structure of the medical establishment does not support research for the sake of research as well as it should. I am sure I don’t need to tell you, medicine is business in today’s economy. The vast majority of studies on drugs for treating any major disease are funded by pharmaceutical companies that have reems of money to spend on research and development, with an interest in finding that new blockbuster drug. As such, there isn’t much interest in researching therapies that are holistic, as whole foods and whole herbs can’t be patented and any therapy that is cheap and readily available isn’t a great investment. Except if you’re thinking in terms of accessibility and community good vs standard ROI calculations, but I digress. So, while I would love to list the holistic therapies that help with COVID-19, the truth is, we don’t know yet, other than high dose vitamin C used in combination with other therapies. What we do know is what works to build the immune system (see my previous article). And we can extrapolate from the data we already have to know which factors most compromise patient outcomes.
And that data is strikingly clear.
A common denominator in cases of mortality from COVID-19 to date is the presence of pre-existing, serious health conditions, of which diabetes / insulin resistance are preeminent. There seems to be a twofold increase in the number of patients in intensive care having diabetes and mortality seems to be threefold higher in people with diabetes, according to data out of China (1). According to CDC coronavirus reports, patients with type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome may have up to 10x greater risk of death from COVID-19 (2).
Insulin resistance explains both metabolic syndrome and diabetes II and it can present clinically even in the absence of type II diabetes. The symptoms are:
central obesity (fat belly)
high blood pressure
high blood sugar
elevated HDL cholesterol
A diagnosis of type II diabetes happens after this disease state has progressed quite far, so a number of people without the actual diagnosis may also be at greater risk, which may lead some naysayers to claim the correlation isn’t that high, but it is. And, as you can see, this would explain why the elderly are so hard hit by this virus, since these diagnoses are themselves epidemic in the elderly. It also would explain why COVID-19 has hit certain demographics harder than others. Investigative journalist, Nina Teicholz, tweeted this week that while African Americans are only 26 per cent of the Milwaukee County population, they accounted for 81 per cent of deaths. She concludes: “We need diet related solutions, not just masks.” Now this news is not worth knowing unless there’s something we can do about it, but that’s what’s so incredible about this correlation. Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome are caused by a diet high in processed foods and carbohydrates and can be managed and even reversed in many cases, by simple dietary interventions and nutrition education.
So if you want to know how to protect yourself from COVID-19 my best advice is first and foremost to take this time to create healthier dietary habits. These habits will help you not just with COVID-19 risk management but in creating better health outcomes overall. And what else can you do with your time at home that will so change the trajectory of your health and longevity?
I’ll continue this next week by sharing the top 10 foods that cause insulin resistance and the 10 substitutes you can use to avoid them. If you want to learn even more and take this opportunity to learn how to turn your health around, I’m offering a variety of live cooking and nutrition classes every week during the lockdown. You can read more and sign at hopenotdope.ca/events.
Thank you again for your query, Suzanne. As always, readers are encouraged to ask their nutrition questions via the email below.
Namaste! Nonie Nutritionista
Information in this article is intended for educational purposes only and should not be misconstrued as medical advice, for which you should see a licensed medical practitioner. Follow all government guidelines for the appropriate way to handle COVID-19.