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Trying to understand the pandemic’s threat is challenging

Microorganisms (bacteria, virus, fungus, etc.) have been on the planet before human life, and they will be here after human life, so we better keep learning how to live together. 

Understanding the immense variety, diversity and adaptability of our microscopic life forms is as humbling as trying to the count stars in the sky or the sea-life in the ocean.

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READ THIS STORY IN THE JUNE ISSUE!

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This little bugger, the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has us in a scramble. Our scientific understanding of its pernicious behavior changes every day. Meanwhile, it’s having its way with our human population. One of my science geek friends described the situation as if we are learning to fly a new airplane, while we are building it.

Equally challenging is discovering who, among us, are more at-risk for a COVID-19 death. A recent study out of the UK looked at 17,000 COVID-19 cases, and the number one risk factor for death was obesity. Our understanding is that it’s not the obesity itself, but an associated condition called Insulin Resistance (the progressing precursor to Type 2 Diabetes). 

How does insulin resistance add insult to injury? It stimulates a higher circulating insulin level. In turn, insulin increases an important lung-aggregating enzyme called ACE-2. ACE-2 helps to regulate our fluid balance and blood pressure.  It congregates on the epithelium of the lung tissue, and acts like a door into the cells, as it assists with oxygen exchange. 

It seems this wicked and smart little virus is using the ACE-2 enzyme as a binding receptor—a door—to inject its RNA into the cells where replication and cell death follows. The more ACE-2 you have, the more at-risk you are. 

I hate to say it but the risk of death from the COVID-19 can be traced back to our sugared-up commercial food supply. Avoiding simple carbs and sugar-laden beverages and foods will help you avoid insulin resistance, diabetes, and obesity.  You may be feeling guilty right now, because your quarantine diet is a breakfast cereal, ice cream, and soda snack-fest. Forgive yourself and get to work.

When you are exposed to COVID-19, how will your body respond? Maybe it’s a good time to improve your nutrition health. Let your 2020 vision be on more whole foods (food in their most simple, natural form). Say “NO!” to fad diets, because they just don’t work. It’s time to reject packaged, processed foods and get some daily exercise. 

We have survived a LOT of change the past few months. It is not easy, but consider this: Changing your diet, out of respect for this virus, could be what saves your life.  

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Dr. Susan Maples is a dentist in Holt. She is also a speaker, health educator, and author of Blabbermouth. Learn more at drsusanmaples.com. or call (517) 694.0353.

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