It is well known that diabetics are more vulnerable to infection and are considered immunocompromised (having an impaired immune system).
This is why more vaccines are recommended for diabetics and foot exams should be a routine part of medical visits.
Right now, our world is focused on infection control during the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
Understandably, we want to reduce risk to each and every one of us. Those of us with medical conditions that predispose us to infection and increase rates of fatality need to be especially vigilant in taking risk-reducing precautions.
So why is it that diabetics are more susceptible to infection and more likely to die from Coronavirus?
The explanation for this is still a topic of research, but there are certainly things we know right now:
- There appears to be a direct relationship between diabetes and rates of infection. We have seen this most clearly with the risk of postoperative infections. After surgery, rates of surgical site infections have been seen as much as 30% more often in people with diabetes than without diabetes.
- It seems that the higher the blood sugars, the higher the risk. We have observed higher rates of infection in those with uncontrolled diabetes than in those with well-controlled blood sugars.
- People with diabetes are more likely to die from infections than those without diabetes.
- We have been able to determine specific impairments in immune system functioning in people with diabetes. For example, neutrophils, white blood cells that lead the fight against infection, do not function optimally in diabetics.
Many theories about what is responsible for the depressed immune response to infection have been proposed:
- The direct effect of high blood sugars damages the immune system.
- Diabetes is a chronic inflammatory disease, which overtaxes and weakens the immune system.
- High glucose levels provide plenty of energy for infections to thrive.
- Small blood vessels damaged by diabetes reduce blood flow to sites of infection, which makes it harder to clear the infection.
- Damage to nerves (neuropathy) makes it harder to notice an infection and address it quickly.
In the end, the exact mechanism for a depressed immune system isn’t important.
What’s important is knowing what you can do about it. Because there are things you can do outside of the general precautions everyone is taking, such as staying home and washing your hands like you have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
What you can do to reduce your risk
We all need to follow the standard recommendations. These are paramount to slowing and reducing the spread of Coronavirus and it’s threat to our most vulnerable citizens.
For people with any type of diabetes, what I explained above hopefully makes clear how important it is that you keep your blood sugars as close to normal as possible.
Reversing Type 2 Diabetes would be a superior approach, and I’d love to help you believe in the REAL possibility of that for yourself. This is what I specialize in.
But even if reversal is not your goal, most of you know exactly what needs to be done to at least bring your sugars down. This means fasting blood sugars in the 100-130 range and 2-hour postprandial (after meal) blood sugars less than 180. If you can do that, you’ll be on target for an A1c < 7%.
Of course, accomplishing this through diet changes is ideal BECAUSE IT IS ADDRESSING THE CAUSE OF INSULIN RESISTANCE, but medications can pick up the slack as well. For some people, simply taking their medications as prescribed can bring blood sugars into the controlled range.
Type 2 Diabetes is considered a chronic inflammatory disease. There are so many foods in the typical American diet that are inflammatory and drive the disease process of diabetes forward, particularly sugar and flour. Polyunsaturated fats (trans fats) such as vegetable oil are also highly inflammatory and should be avoided altogether.
Bringing your blood sugar down and reducing inflammation by addressing the cause in your diet allows your immune system to heal and strengthen.
Here are some clear strategies you can implement right away:
- Reduce or eliminate sugar and flour from your diet. These drive up blood sugars and increase insulin resistance. They are also inflammatory, and not only stress your immune system but worsen joint pain and autoimmune disease symptoms.
- Reduce or eliminate processed foods from your diet. This includes any foods that have been pre-prepared and packaged for faster consumption. Look at the ingredient label. If you see ingredients you can’t pronounce, that’s a good sign that it’s a heavily processed food.
- Consider intermittent fasting. I have dedicated an entire post to this topic because it is so important. Research has shown that fasting for 72 hours can regenerate your entire immune system. This article summarizes the findings nicely. Of course, 72 hours is pretty extreme for someone who hasn’t ever gone 12 hours without a meal, so I advise people to start with time-restricted eating. Open the link to my post in a new window to read more.
- Aim to get your blood sugars into recommended ranges for diabetics any way you know how, whether it be with prescribed medications, exercise, diet, or a combination of these.
There’s never been a better time or reason to take control of your health and future than our current situation.
If you’ve been struggling with getting organized, dealing with stress-eating or overeating at all, or having trouble finding your motivation and creating a plan, I can help you with all of these obstacles.
YOU CAN REVERSE YOUR TYPE 2 DIABETES AND GET OFF YOUR MEDICATIONS.
Don’t wait another day in indecision.
Send me your contact info here and we can talk: