Death by Food
A report has come out which may shed light on the high mortality rates of Covid-19 and gives us some encouragement in the fight against the virus.
According to the US center for disease control, a study based on 99 countries found that obesity is the biggest risk factor for death for people aged under 50.
For years, the food industry has been heavily criticized for deceiving the public. Processed and ultra-processed foods are often high in sugar, the culprit in the war against obesity, Type-2 Diabetes, and maybe even neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s. Doctors in the UK are now on the attack and demand that the Government step up and inform the public of the necessity to change the diet.
Diseases that can be caused by food
Depending on who you’re speaking to Obesity may or may not be considered a disease. But a staggering 39% of the world population who are over18 are obese, and even more horrifying is that 38millon children under the age of 5 have this infliction (disease, or no disease). These same children are 4 times more likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes. According to WHO Europe, 50% of Europeans are overweight, with ⅕ of women and ¼ of the male population being obese.
Type 2 diabetes (T2D) can be a result of being overweight, or obese, through a diet rich in carbohydrates and sugary food. T2D is basically when there is too much sugar in your blood.
We should normally have about 4g which is about a teaspoon, it makes you think that a can of coke contains about 11 teaspoons of sugar, and that tonic to go with your gin I’m sorry to tell you contains 32g of sugar which is nearly 9 teaspoons of sugar. T2D can lead to serious illnesses such as nerve damage leading to blindness, heart disease, stroke, kidney damage even amputation.
Alzheimer’s is now being called Type 3 Diabetes because it results from Insulin resistance in the brain and insulin spikes when we are consuming vast amounts of carbohydrates and or sugar. According to Dr. David Perlmutter in his book “Grain Brain”. (A must-read by the way!) There are currently 50 million people worldwide who have Alzheimer’s and by 2050, there could be 152million people. In 2010 alone, in America, 18.8 million people were diagnosed with a possible 7 million gone undetected, that’s 25million people i.e. the population of Australia. And by the time you read the end of this sentence, someone else on the planet has been diagnosed with Dementia…i.e. Every three seconds. But the good doctor whose book has been translated into 31 languages and been read by over 1.5million people goes on to say that there is hope and that these illnesses just like T2D and obesity can be reversible through a change in lifestyle and of course diet.
Dr. Dale Bredesen who is an internationally recognized expert in Alzheimer’s disease and has created The Bredesen Protocol which is a program that identifies, targets, and treats the root cause of the cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease believes that we are the last generation to fear Alzheimer’s. He believes that you can treat and reverse Alzheimer’s through lifestyle and changes to the diet. “Alzheimer’s disease is not an omnipotent neurological disorder which we have no control, but a metabolic disease which is wholly within our control.” Even Hippocrates, (yeah, that dude with the cool name, aka The Father of Medicine) all those years ago said: “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”, and he’s 2,470 years old! I’m sure he didn’t have to deal with obesity and diabetes, I can’t remember seeing any statues of overweight Gladiators! If he could see what was going on today, he would surely be turning in his tomb.
Back to the Corona Virus
Now, let’s talk about our current health issue. The Covid-19 virus has now killed 3.5million people. This is a lot more than the standard influenza kills at least 250,000 deaths a year. Robert Robert Lustig, a professor of pediatric endocrinology at the University of California and chairman of the Institute of Responsible Nutrition, pulls no punches on the who’s to blame; “I’ve heard Covid-19 referred to as a beast because it doesn’t distinguish. In point of fact, it doesn’t distinguish who it infects. But it does distinguish who it kills. Other than the elderly, it’s those who are black, obese, and/or have pre-existing conditions. What distinguished these three demographics? Ultra-processed food. Because ultra-processed food sets you up for inflammation, which Covid-19 is happy to exploit. Just another way processed food kills. Time to rethink the menu”. I urge you all to read this article. This is huge because again like so many of the aforementioned illnesses obesity can be reversed. When we hear of junk-food we tend to think of fast-food restaurants, but we need to change this way of thinking. Processed and ultra-processed foods are just as damaging if not worse as they contain, hidden sugars, salts, additives, and preservatives that kill the good bacteria in our intestines and leave us open to inflammation.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Here in Spain, we have our famed Mediterranean Diet! Full of fish, vegetables, nuts, and glorious extra olive oil and lots of it, ¡por favor! So surely, we have nothing to worry about, flicking the hair from our tanned faces and yes, it has been said that Med diet is the healthiest diet in the world and moreover can be a way to help reduce the effects if not cure serious inflammation and illness. But we need to be careful over here, seemingly Los Españoles, are tired of eating all those olives and are opting for the quick fix, crappy food according to reports. Adult obesity rates in Spain are now higher than the OECD average. As well as the olives and the fish and the vegetables, there is a lot of white bread on the Terraza tables, as well as white rice and pasta. Sure, look at Italy! Famed for its pizza and pasta. All these foods convert to sugar which can lead to serious problems for the body as we discussed above. So maybe it’s not all the kissing on the cheeks that’s at fault after all!
Just like your standard episode of Black Mirror, On March 14th, we were forced indoors with our partners, mothers, fathers, son, daughters, flatmates, and other people we love (or hate ;o)) May 2nd will probably go down in Spanish history as the day we crawled out of our toilet rolls and flapped our (let’s face it) slightly fatter selves onto the streets of our cities and towns once again. It’s been a time of reflection for us all. To think about what’s really important in our lives. During the quarantine, I saw the effort people were making to move their bodies. Painstakingly walking around their tiny terrace for one hour. I saw people taking up skipping for the first time on the rooftop terraces. People were sharing their HIIT sessions on Instagram. I myself starting doing yoga every morning! When I went to the supermarket, apart from the wine and beer shelves running low, I was happy to see flour had run out as people were starting to bake their own bread at home. It would be so encouraging if we could continue these trends, keep our bodies moving, and eating real food.
A healthier future
In the same report, Dr. Aseem Malhotra, London cardiologist has offered us hope and said that conditions such as obesity can be reversed within a matter of weeks. If this is true, well then it not only means less death from Covid-19, but it also means less death from CHD, and Dementia and Diabetes 2 and Alzheimer’s!
As days go by and de-escalation continues, we face an uncertain future in so many ways. But one thing is sure, by making simple changes to diet and lifestyle, we can save so many lives and so much heartache. I’ll finish with a quote from that big Greek Guapo;
“Healing is a matter of time, but it is also a matter of opportunity.”