Fear Reduction, Health Promotion.
A large portion of the world's population is confined to their homes right now as we are faced with a global health crisis. An outbreak of this proportion, that has been labeled "Pandemic", is very frightening to most people and for many different reasons. People fear getting sick or dying, loved ones getting sick, economic collapse, businesses being lost and dreams shattered. Weddings have been cancelled, even funerals have been cancelled, only essential businesses are open, and life as we know it is shut down. An event of this magnitude is hard to ever prepare for, and has shown us that we can work our entire lives for something, and it can be gone very quickly. Let's all hope and pray that this is truly a once in our lifetime sort of thing. I think the question we all need to start asking ourselves is... do we have ANY control (at all) over that? We may not have much control over IF it happens again, but we may have some control over HOW we are individually affected by it.
When it comes to the COVID-19 Coronavirus, nobody's risk of getting infected is zero. The truth is, we are ALL at risk. This has proven to be scarier for some people than others. We can certainly all do our part (and we need to), to flatten the curve by following CDC guidelines, practicing social distancing, effectively washing our hands, and not touching our faces.
Even though some of the statistics out there are still a moving target, there are enough numbers and studies out there now to confidently state that there are specific demographics of people that are more at risk of developing severe symptoms that require hospitalization and/or intensive care. Nobody should feel invulnerable to COVID-19 but we now know that the elderly are more at risk, studies are saying those individuals over 65 years of age. Secondly, we know that those with underlying health conditions/ pre-existing conditions or compromised immune systems also face higher odds of severe symptoms, and death.
Did you know that almost half of Americans, ages 55-64 years old have at least one pre-existing condition, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
No matter how old you are just remember that no lives are insignificant, and that although you may not be 65 years or older you can still be asymptomatic and transmit the virus to others. Something that everyone should take into consideration, we all are missing out on things and missing our normal routine... so help out, and do your part. As the death toll continues to rise, researchers are scrambling to confirm even more information about what is leaving people more at risk of severe infection. I think we have all seen a handful of COVID-19 cases where a younger person's life has been taken as well, with no (confirmed) underlying health conditions. With that being said, I also think at this point it's undeniable that the evidence points to age, obviously (which we already discussed), BUT also metabolic syndrome, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity are SOME of the chronic conditions that lead to complications with COVID-19, hospitalization and death.
The Mayo Clinic states that "metabolic syndrome is increasingly common, and up to one-third of U.S. adults have it. If you have metabolic syndrome or any of its components, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems."
Isn't that enough... isn't this "pandemic" enough to want to make some changes? Maybe not, most people ran to the stores these past few weeks and besides stocking up on toilet paper, they stocked up on frozen foods, alcohol, processed foods and foods high in sugar, carbs, harmful chemicals and unhealthy oils.
Many of the conditions that are complicating things are entirely treatable with diet, exercise and lifestyle changes. So why isn't this at the forefront of conversation? I'm so confused... and concerned for us.
I understand that for those already hospitalized and/ or in intensive care this may be a mute point right at the moment, but why aren't more doctors talking about nutrition, health and lifestyle changes for preventative measures or to lessen the chances of complications from infection? Why isn't THAT in the news? For those of us who are alive and well at the moment, this is something that we have control over, can immediately implement and start to improve on. Nothing happens overnight but come next flu season, do we know what's going to happen? Will we be dealing with this all over again? They still haven't been able to weed out the possibility of this coming back again. Will we be glad we are still living our unhealthy lifestyles that lead to greater risk? Granted, it shouldn't be just the scare from Coronavirus that makes us change our ways... but if that is what does it, I am okay with that. Obesity and chronic unhealthy lifestyle behaviors (in some way or another) lead to more deaths per year than the Coronavirus will ever be able to get close to.
According to the World Obesity Federation, “obesity-related conditions seem to worsen the effect of COVID-19; indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that people with heart disease and diabetes are at higher risk of COVID-19 complications.”
Why, you might ask. Well on a physiological level, excess fat is risky, (especially around the mid-section/ organs) according to Dr. Karl Nadolsky, the chairman of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists’ (AACE) Obesity and Nutrition Diseases State Network and an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Michigan. Nadolsky suggests there is an increased risk of illness severity due to the amount of actual fat in the body. Some overweight and obese patients also may not be able to be treated for COVID-19 with ventilators if they have excess tissue, which could make use of the ventilator for those patients dangerous. Obesity is sometimes caused from some people being more genetically predisposed to store body fat, it is also often due to stress, trauma, lack of knowledge/ understanding, or mental health challenges. It is NOT however a reason to shame someone, yet a reason to try to help them, lovingly. It is not about how someone looks, it is about HEALTH.
Check out this 2016 chart from The WHO (World Health Organization), and things have only gotten worse... did you know obesity is also labeled by most as Pandemic?
Let me make a couple suggestions, if you have been going to a physician who spends little to no time with you, still knows nothing about you, and hands you prescriptions please do yourself a favor and look elsewhere. That practice is not focused on preventative care. Find one that is, ask friends for a referral or do your research. Doctors, we know that you're busy and that is okay! Especially in these situations, doctors are extremely overwhelmed, (God bless them for all that they are doing right now). In my opinion, every doctor's office should be equipped with a Certified Health Coach, or equivalent. Either on staff or have one that they can refer patients to so that patients DO have access to someone who does have the time (and knowledge) to help these patients change their lifestyle habits. Someone in their sphere needs to have that as their one and only designated job. You cannot expect a patient to just eat better because you told them to, a lot of Americans don't even know what that really means or where to start. A lot of people think that means Diet Coke and low-fat yogurt. It takes coaching, it takes behavior change... and a "meal plan" does not equal long term behavior change.
Right now the steady stream of news, and statistics flashing across all our screens non-stop has everyone in panic mode. COVID-19 has taken the world and media outlets by storm. Everywhere we turn there are bulletins and "breaking news" and friends telling us their fears about the virus. It is truly hard to escape. People are scared. Although the CDC and medical experts around the globe are still trying to figure out how to get a handle on what's happening right now, maybe I can help you calm what's happening inside of you. Take precautions and CDC guidelines very seriously but try not to obsess about what might happen. Faith over fear. I have to catch myself on this too, but fear and stress do us no good, and actually downgrade our immune systems. Focus on positive change, start now, and develop a plan to becoming a healthier and more resilient human, during this pandemic and beyond. You do have control over that. Do things that bring you JOY that are within CDC guidelines. Look up online courses, exercise (go for a jog or follow a workout guide, or YouTube video), read, paint (I am doing a virtual watercolor class this week), try new healthy recipes to compliment your new lifestyle changes, spend more quality time with your family, with God, and practice gratitude. Working on these healthier practices can help you feel more in control during times of uncertainty. A lot of your health is up to you, and just remember we are all in this together! I am always here to help and serve where I can. Stay safe and healthy out there, and love on each other a little extra right now... just from six feet away.