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In the past year, we’ve all gotten a crash course in COVID-19. We’ve learned that while everyone might be at risk, some of us are at more risk than others.
For people who are over 60, the danger of death from a coronavirus infection goes up.
For those living with heart disease or cancer, the chances of dying due to COVID rise dramatically.
And if you have Type II diabetes or are obese, you’re more likely to die from the virus than someone healthy with a normal BMI.
Now, research from the University of Maryland School of Medicine has fresh news for us all: on the downside, they’ve confirmed two factors that increase your chances of severe COVID-19 infection — but on the bright side, they’ve also identified two factors that could lower your potential for infection…
The importance of keeping your immune system healthy
The researchers used the vast data from the UK Biobank of 500,000 British volunteers over age 40. This massive system let them delve into each participant’s overall health, including pre-existing conditions, and compare them to positive COVID test results, severe infection and death.
And here’s what they found…
The results showed that participants with positive COVID-19 test results were more likely to be obese or have type II diabetes.
In other words, if you have type II diabetes or a high body mass index (BMI), you’re not just at greater risk of needing to be hospitalized or experiencing severe complications related to COVID-19, you’re also at greater risk of simply getting sick from the virus in the first place.
That’s the bad news. But here’s where the good comes in…
The team also found that people who tested negative for COVID-19 were more likely to have high levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and be at a healthy weight with a normal BMI. Basically, these two factors could greatly diminish your risk of getting infected.
“Certain baseline cardiometabolic factors appear to either protect a person from COVID-19 infection while others make a person more vulnerable to infection,” said study author Charles Hong, MD, Ph.D., professor of medicine and director of cardiology research at the University of Medicine School of Medicine.
And he went on to explain that, “These are statistical associations that point to the importance of a healthy functioning immune system for protecting against COVID-19 infection.”
A healthier body means a better functioning immune system
Even now that the COVID-19 vaccines are available, helping your body resist the potential for infection is important. We’ve already heard that the current vaccines may not provide enough protection against the more aggressive variants of the virus.
So where do you start?
In addition to maintaining healthy body weight, the scientists recommend increasing your HDL (healthy cholesterol) levels by:
#1 – Getting regular exercise
Doctors from the Cleveland Clinic recommend starting small and working your way up to at least 30 minutes a day of physical activity to improve your HDL levels.
#2 – Adding monounsaturated fats
Diets rich in monounsaturated fats, such as avocadoes and extra virgin olive oil may help raise good cholesterol.
#3 – Skipping trans fats
While monounsaturated fats can improve HDL cholesterol levels, trans fats (like the ones found in foods prepared with shortening, most fried foods and margarine) can lower it.
#4 – Kicking the habit
Since smoking has an HDL-lowering effect, saying goodbye to cigarettes can help support healthy cholesterol levels and a healthy immune system.
Other immune-boosting tips from the medical teams at Harvard and the Cleveland Clinic include getting plenty of sleep, reducing your stress, and eating a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables, especially ones high in vitamin C such as oranges, broccoli and kiwi. Add in other immune boosters such as garlic and probiotics found in yogurt.
Editor’s note: Several COVID-19 variants are set to put our vaccine strategy to the test. So don’t let your guard down. Get your copy of the Comprehensive Guide to COVID-19 today. In it, you’ll discover everything about what makes you vulnerable to infection and how to reduce exposure. It’s also brimming with valuable information the mainstream media isn’t allowed to share with you. Click here!
Cholesterol Guide: Exercise Tips — Cleveland Clinic
HDL cholesterol: How to boost your ‘good’ cholesterol — Mayo Clinic
How to boost your immune system — Harvard Health Publishing
Strengthen Your Immune System With 4 Simple Strategies — Cleveland Clinic