In the news
So did SARS-CoV-2 come from a lab “accident”? The United States Department of Energy reported that “the COVID-19 pandemic likely originated from an accidental lab leak in China.” Several months ago I noted in Carvings that a lab leak was possible and that it could have happened in several ways, including a lab worker who purloined animals that he or she sold at the local wet market to augment their salary.
N.B.: You may not be aware of this issue depending your source of news. In my commitment to remain non-political I will not list those networks in which there is no mention of the information that comes from the U.S. Department of Energy, the FBI or the Lancet medical journal.
It’s distressing to recall that the government and the media tried so hard to dismiss that possibility. Even with this newest revelation, it remains unlikely that we will ever know what really happened. But there is an important fact that we should keep in mind: we will always be under threat of a pandemic from the enormous reservoir of viruses and bacteria in the animal population, and it doesn’t take a lab leak to set that in motion. Although we can’t avoid them we can take steps that will increase our ability to survive them.
Have you ever wondered why kids in the same family can have different degrees of illness from the same infection, such as chickenpox or measles (both of which have almost completely disappeared because of vaccines)? Sometimes it’s a matter of genetic roulette – every individual has a unique immunologic profile and some, even within the same family, are more resistant to certain infections than others. In the great majority of instances, however, having a mild or asymptomatic disease is the result of having an immune system that is not compromised by self-inflicted conditions such as obesity, diabetes or dysnutrition. That was painfully evident in the first few weeks of the pandemic, when older, obese, diabetic and heart-compromised individuals were noted to have the poorest outcomes, including those with very low levels of vitamin D. Dysnutrition refers to the all-American practice of ingesting highly processed foods laden with sugar, salt, fat and an astonishingly large amount of chemicals that are designed to improve the bottom line of producers by improving flavor and shelf life.
Persons who are obese or diabetic don’t handle infections well and don’t respond as vigorously to vaccines as persons who are of normal weight and in good health. Those with heart disease, high blood pressure or who have lung or kidney disease have less reserve when the body is assaulted by a virus.
Your best strategy: maintain normal weight, get plenty of exercise, have enough protein in your diet to support your immune system, take a multivitamin/multimineral supplement and get at least eight hours of sleep every night.
If you are a carb-reducer, don’t overdo carb reduction. Carbohydrates are a major source of energy whether you are dieting or not. You can drop several hundred calories a day by simply eliminating refined carbohydrates such as bread products, cereals, pasta and potatoes and replacing them with vegetables. The latter will provide you with the carbohydrates that you need but will release their starch more slowly in order to keep blood glucose levels within the normal range.
Most low-carb diets limit fruits and vegetables, especially in the early “induction” phase. That’s usually the hardest part for new dieters. Concentrate on fruits and vegetables that have the lowest glycemic index, the number that indicates how high and how rapidly your blood glucose will climb after eating them. You can find a list of these on Google.
For dieters, the great advantage of eating large quantities of plant foods is that you will never be hungry. Their bulk is mostly fiber and water; most Americans don’t get enough of the former and lots of seniors not enough of the latter.