Weighing Your Risk – Nutrition, Obesity & COVID-19
At Banister Nutrition, we recognize that a variety of factors play a role in your overall health. As we work alongside our clients, we see first-hand the impact that nutrition has on the ability to positively influence outcomes associated with illness and disease. In fact, as we learn more about COVID-19 and the dynamics that influence both risk and severity, it is confirming our understanding that to best manage our health, we must leverage what we know about nutrition and do what we can now to meet our health goals for today and our future.
When it comes to COVID-19, new evidence may suggest that obese individuals are more likely to be hospitalized and admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) compared to those who are overweight or of healthy weight. Currently, weight status is defined using the Body Mass Index (BMI) scale which categorizes individuals as underweight, healthy weight, overweight, or obese. By these standards, 42.4% of Americans are currently considered obese. With that being said, it is important to recognize that while BMI does not take into account a person’s body fat percentage, the reality is, there is a strong body of evidence that shows BMI as a reliable indicator of health status and health outcomes. In addition, by dismissing the potential correlation between weight and COVID-19 outcomes, we may be missing an opportunity to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Lastly, multiple studies have shown obesity linked to impaired immune function, decreases lung capacity, and altered sleep patterns, thereby further complicating outcomes associated with COVID-19 – all of which can be positively influenced by nutrition!
At this point, you may be asking – what are some of the links between nutrition and weight, and what can I do to put myself and my loved ones in the best position to fight COVID-19? See our thoughts below on ways to curb your risk by maximizing your sleep, physical activity, and stress management, all through the power of nutrition!
Nutrition, Weight & Sleep
What we know – Insufficient sleep can result in a disruption to the body’s hormone regulation mechanisms including those that control the production of ghrelin and leptin, hormones that help regulate hunger and satiety (or fullness). This can lead to an imbalance in energy and weight gain over time.
What we can do – Try to limit foods that might disrupt your sleep patterns for at least 1-3 hours before bedtime including foods with added caffeine & sugar or those that are greasy or high in saturated fat. Examples include fried foods, soda, and sweets/desserts. On the flip side, foods with quality fiber such as fruits, vegetables, and grains along with healthy fats and protein such as fish, nuts, and seeds may actually improve the quality and duration of sleep.
Nutrition, Weight & Physical Activity
What we know – Daily physical activity, in addition to proper nutrition, supports the growth and development of lean body mass (LBM) which is critical for proper nutrient utilization and a healthy metabolism.
What we can do – The types of foods, as well as the timing of the foods we eat, is important in maximizing your efforts in the gym (or newly designed “home gym”). For example, give your body at least 1-4 hours to eat and process food before working out. Examples of meals/snacks that include a quality protein with a quality carbohydrate are oatmeal with almonds and blueberries or a no-sugar-added Greek yogurt with sliced strawberries.
But don’t stop there! In the first 30 minutes following an intense workout, your body is primed and ready to receive and use an easy to digest (you guessed it) quality protein and a quality carbohydrate source such as a glass of low-fat chocolate milk or even a peanut butter smoothie made with low-fat milk and half a banana. Refueling after a workout is just as important as the meal prior, if not more, in building lean muscle!
Nutrition, Weight & Stress Management
What we know – When our body experiences stress, it begins to produce cortisol which can influence weight management through its impact on appetite signals and the body’s insulin response.
What we can do – Make sure to eat consistently throughout and include foods that help you to feel good which means those that help you to maintain energy levels, support a healthy immune system, and improve cognition and focus. Examples of foods to include daily are those high in fiber and healthy fats with special attention to those with added Vitamin A, C, and zinc for immune and memory support. Examples include citrus fruits, nuts and seeds, as well as omega-3 rich sources such as salmon.
If you or someone you know needs additional support and guidance on the best plan for them, Banister Nutrition is here to help!
Wishing you and your family and happy and healthy holiday season! ~ AS & The Banister Team~