April 8, 2020
Coronavirus and Comorbidity
Hi again, in my previous post we discussed the hard numbers concerning death from the coronavirus. For those of you who don’t like math, the bottom line is this: If you take the most dire, end of the world, post-apocalyptic prediction of as many as 2,000,000 Americans dead, that would leave any individual with a chance of NOT dying from the virus of 99.4%. And if you use a more sober number of deaths of at most 200,000 (probably actually closer to 100,000), you end up with a chance of NOT dying of 99.9%! The chances of being hospitalized for COVID-19 would be slightly higher, but similarly miniscule. If you are looking for a 100% safety guarantee, may I suggest respectfully you are on the wrong planet.
“THE MICROBE IS NOTHING, THE TERRAIN IS EVERYTHING”
This quote is attributed to Louis Pasteur as he lay on his deathbed. This story may, in fact, be apocryphal, but it nevertheless makes an important point. For those who don’t know, Pasteur is known as the father of the Germ Theory which states that germs invade the body and make it sick. This is the foundation of western medicine. What is little known is that Pasteur had a running feud with another scientist of his time named Antoine Bechamp who, along with another scientist named Claude Bernard, believed that germs (the microbes), which are ever-present, were not the concern and it was the health of the body (the terrain) that determined whether germs would take hold and cause illness. Bechamp advocated not for the killing of germs, but for creating real health through diet, hygiene, and healthy lifestyle practices such as getting fresh air (getting out of your house!) and exercising, which would in turn help protect the body from succumbing to the germs. This is the theory of health with which I align, and should at the very least have you question why some people get sick and or die from communicable disease (whether coronavirus, seasonal flu, or the Black Death), but many more do not. If one person gets sick from a germ invasion, why doesn’t everyone? In any event, the story goes that Pasteur relented on his deathbed and admitted that Bechamp and Bernard were right; that the terrain (the body) was the controlling factor. And that brings us to the topic of comorbidities, which is pertinent to the COVID-19 frenzy we find ourselves in today.
So let’s talk about the evidence and understanding that the vast majority of those dying (or even getting seriously ill) from coronavirus have what are called comorbidities. Comorbidities are previously existing illnesses that a person has which weaken the body and apparently cause for a more difficult experience with COVID-19. The evidence of the burden of comorbidity during this pandemic is seen all over the world. A report released by the CDC on April 3rd shows that 78% of those needing admittance to the ICU had at least one underlying health condition and 71% of those needing hospitalization but not ICU care had at least one underlying condition as well. “These results are consistent with findings from China and Italy, which suggest that patients with underlying health conditions and risk factors, including, but not limited to, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, COPD, coronary artery disease, cerebrovascular disease, chronic renal disease, and smoking, might be at higher risk for severe disease or death from COVID-19.”
A study out of China finds that “Among laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19, patients with any comorbidity yielded poorer clinical outcomes than those without. A greater number of comorbidities also correlated with poorer clinical outcomes.”
A report out of Italy showed that 99% of those who died from coronavirus had pre-existing illnesses. Roughly 50% had three or more comorbidities, while another roughly 25% each had one or two comorbidities.
A Dr. Stephen Smith interviewed on a recent news show reports that 22 out of 23 of his hospitalized coronavirus patients were diabetic/pre-diabetic, and 14 out of 15 severe cases were diabetic/pre-diabetic (the remaining guy was 94 years old and wasn't tested).
The NYC Health Department reports that of the 2,738 deaths attributed to coronavirus on April 6, 62% had confirmed underlying conditions, and if you include those with an underlying condition “pending” (apparently not yet confirmed in the notes) that figure goes up to 98%. On the other hand, only 1.8% of those who died had no underlying condition noted.
As you can see, the overwhelming majority of those who are dying from COVID-19 have underlying health conditions, most of which are predominantly, if not entirely, due to lifestyle choices. So what’s an easy and effective method of attaining better health? The biggest lever to health is what you eat. Approximately 70% of Americans are believed to be metabolically unhealthy. That is, their insulin levels are too high (not necessarily their sugar levels, yet). This is the result of eating too many carbohydrates, mostly processed carbohydrates, and this metabolic derangement is an underlying contributor, if not cause, of most of the illnesses we have today. The biochemistry and physiology of why and how high insulin levels are so harmful is a talk for another day, but suffice it to say you can immediately and significantly move your health for the better by changing your diet today.
Now is a good time to take stock of your life and consider making some dietary changes that will improve your terrain so you can withstand the next viral pandemic or just the plagues of prosperity waiting for you down the road (heart disease, cancer, dementia, etc). Beef is the best food you can eat. It is the most nutrient dense and bioavailable food source there is. We as humans need protein, and lots of it. Research indicates that the most relevant health marker as we age is lean mass. The less muscle you have, the less vital you are. Eggs are considered by many to be the perfect food, so eat as many as you want. For those who enjoy vegetables and don’t find any adverse effects (digestive issues, skin issues, autoimmune issues) from them, that’s okay too. Just stop eating grains and sugars (grains convert into sugar in your body almost immediately). There is no such thing as a “healthy whole grain.” The average American consumes about 65% of their calories as carbohydrates, yet the human body requires zero carbohydrates to function properly. And the other “food” you absolutely must stop consuming is vegetable oil (all of them). It is NOT healthy for you. While moronic websites like Popsugar will tell you now is not the time to worry about eating crap and gaining weight, I respectfully submit there will never be a better time to stop eating crap, lower your insulin, and create a healthier body. The numbers don’t lie. Those who are less healthy are more susceptible to illness and disease of all kinds. How you weather this viral assault (and the others to come), and how your future health unfolds (many scientists now refer to dementia as “type three diabetes”) is largely in your hands. If you are currently overweight, have high blood pressure, heart issues, sleep apnea, diabetes or pre-diabetes (that’s most of us), or any other health issue, I implore you to take this craziness as a wake-up call and get your health in order. Our healthcare system is really just a disease management system. You are your own best doctor. Start practicing.
Let me close by saying, as I did in my previous post, that I am not saying you should take the coronavirus threat cavalierly. I do not recommend licking the handrails at your local subway station. For many Americans this is a serious matter. Many will get sick and some will die. But the idea that you are helpless to protect yourself from succumbing to this virus is simply untrue. If one human being can contract this virus and survive it, often with no symptoms (as apparently many, many have and will), then every human can, if their terrain is strong.
Next time we will look at the psychological (and financial) cost of self-isolation and social distancing. Is the “cure” worse than the disease?