By Dr. Steve Hoody
COVID-19 has killed 4.5 million people worldwide as of the writing of this article. It got the attention of policymakers and the public, forced the rapid creation of numerous successful vaccines and made mask-wearing ubiquitous. COVID-19 is the pandemic that changed how we live in 2021.
But according to the World Health Organization, 2.8 million people die each year from another silent pandemic, obesity. Since COVID-19, nearly 5.8 million died of obesity. These two pandemics have joined forces, producing even deadlier results. Obesity is the number one cofactor determining the severity and potential mortality of COVID-19.
A March 8, 2021 study by the CDC noted that 78% of people hospitalized, needing ventilators or having died from Covid were overweight or obese.
To Reduce COVID Deaths, Reduce Obesity
The single most important factor determining the severity of someone’s COVID-19 symptoms or how deadly it might be, is not a history of lung disease, cardiovascular issues, cancer, or high blood pressure. It is obesity. Unfortunately, obesity is misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and thought to be out of our control. Nothing could be further from the truth. Science provides a three-step guide to reducing obesity, whether it’s for an individual, a community, or the whole planet.
Step one: Reset our Metabolism
Resetting our metabolism solves the obesity epidemic and reduces the devastation of the COVID pandemic. It helps our bodies burn fat for energy the way we were meant to. It makes our immune system capable of handling most of life’s challenges.
The hypothalamus, a region of the forebrain which coordinates the autonomic nervous system, body temperature, thirst, hunger, and other homeostatic systems, plays a key role in your body’s ability to regulate fat metabolism. When working properly, we burn fat deposits for energy and our body resets to its ideal size, shape, and weight.
Reset your metabolism and kickstart your hypothalamus, by following these suggestions:
- Eat more foods high in chromium, like broccoli, grape juice, grass fed beef, and Brazil nuts.
- Consume omega 3 rich foods, like fish (especially salmon, sardines, anchovies) or grass-fed beef twice per week, and use olive oil instead of butter or other oils.
- Practice balanced, moderate exercise, like taking walks.
- Get enough high-quality sleep, get to sleep earlier, use naps if needed, and meditate to destress.
- Detox regularly by avoiding processed foods and those high in chemicals. A simple glass of hot water with juice from ½ a lemon first thing in the morning helps flush out your liver.
Resetting one’s metabolism results in losing weight the healthy way.
Step 2: Achieve ideal weight AND keep it.
Knowledge is addicting and motivating. Witnessing your metabolism burn fat efficiently is key to keeping the weight off and feeling healthy. There are inexpensive metabolic scales that accurately assess your weight, body fat, lean body muscle, body water (which means toxicity levels), visceral fat and metabolic age. When these metrics are within healthy ranges, especially when your metabolic age reaches your current chronological age or below, your metabolism has kicked into full gear. Watching your metabolic age get younger and younger is better than the sugar rush from a Snickers Bar.
This helps people stay at their healthy weight 5, 10, 20 years and more. They have more energy, and their clothes fit better. I know many people who experienced this. Oliver, who is running 5K’s regularly, was 50 lbs. heavier and was uncomfortable even walking. Anna Maria is now fitting into clothes that she has not worn for over 20 years. The professional wrestler, Ivy Roman, is excited that her thighs look so good and trim now that her metabolism is working. Metabolism did what working out couldn’t.
Step 3: The Rule of 3s.
The single best way to change your life, even if you ignore the first two steps, is to adopt what I call, “Dr. Hoody’s Rule of Threes.” Simply put, eat three times more greens than proteins, and three times more proteins than grains. If policymakers did nothing else but develop policies to promote the Rule of Threes, the world would see fewer deaths from COVID-19 and obesity.
Three times more greens than proteins is important because our bodies do not digest greens, the bacteria in our gut does. That bacterium is responsible for 90% of our immune system. Take care of that bacterium, and it will take care of you.
Three times more protein than grains is important because our body needs protein to build muscle and provide energy. Why so few grains? The body processes grains as sugar and stores it as fat. Grains were important when humanity was on the verge of starvation, and we needed to store fat because we never knew when we would eat again. Today food is everywhere, but too many of us still eat and process food as though we are about to experience a famine.
COVID-19 has made the obesity epidemic more acute. Policymakers and health professions would be wise to heed the call. Let’s start with World Healthy Weight Day and shed our excess pounds and health-related ailments.
It is too preventable not to.
Dr. Steve Hoody is an award-winning Nutritionist and weight loss expert in New York City. He is the CEO/Founder of Healthier2gether, a company dedicated to Health and Wellness through nutrition and education.