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Lockdown, love, nature, air and the future

I don’t dare use the “U” word…

Unprecedented.

Until 2020, most people would go from one year to the next without encountering the U word.

Now it seems as though it’s the most overused word in the English language and everyone is bored of hearing it.
But, the truth remains, these really are unprecedented times.
I’m almost 50 years old and we’ve certainly never experienced anything like this before in my lifetime.

Lockdown has meant many things to many people.

  • Loss
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Emotional pain
  • Financial pain
  • Loneliness
  • And more besides

To others it’s meant…

  • Time
  • Connection
  • They’ve slowed down
  • They’ve smelled the roses, for the first time in years
  • They’ve sat out in the sun, topped up their vitamin D, relaxed and reduced stress
  • They’ve taken walks with their kids
  • Made all those long chatty phone calls to old friends they have been meaning to catch up with
  • Been for a bike ride with their daughter
  • Made LEGO with their son
  • Made their first jigsaw puzzle in 15 years
  • Had a lie in
  • They’ve walked in their home-city streets in the cleanest air they can ever remember
  • They’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet in their town, with 60% of the usual traffic gone from the roads
  • Air pollution is down
  • Greenhouse gas emissions, by some early accounts, have regressed to 2009 levels
  • Cities can breathe again
  • Skies are clearer
  • Noise pollution is down
  • Stressed executives are now working from home, not getting up at 5.30am for the 90-minute rush hour commute
  • As a nation, we are realising, it’s not the movie stars, golf pros, rock stars and premier league goal scorers we stand out and applaud every Thursday evening
  • The new stars are nurses and doctors, power grid engineers, delivery drivers, school teachers, farmers, sewage engineers and water treatment plant workers

Locked in our homes, isolated from all our normal social movements, it’s not the rock concert or star-studded movie or the big match we miss so much as…

  • Hugging mum
  • A walk on the beach
  • Laughing over sillyness with best friends
  • A picnic in the park
  • Walking in nature
  • Camping with the kids
  • Sunday lunch with granny and grandad

I wonder, as countries release tight social movement restrictions, how we might have changed.

  • Will the stressed workaholic now see that time with the kids is actually more important that a new Mercedes?
  • Will that long commute now seem like a chore just not worth the price?
  • Will some kids realise that kicking a ball around in the park has always been better than PlayStation and Xbox?
  • Will we see that 500 channels of 24/7 TV, is a poor form of entertainment compared to walking over hills and cliff tops?
  • Will we put down some of our apps, and spend more time cooking, hugging, and laughing with our families?
  • Will more people now see, that our “natural capital”, the inherent value to our wellbeing in our woodlands, hills, beaches, parks and natural places, is worth more than this year’s dividend, a new car, or the latest consumer electronics?

They say “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone” – and when we’re locked in our homes, and access to nature is restricted, we re-discover how important our natural capital really is.

  • Clean air
  • The beauty of nature
  • The sounds of birdsong
  • Holding hands
  • The leaves on the trees
  • Hugging
  • Dew-soaked wet morning grass beneath your feet
  • Sunshine
  • Laughter
  • Friendship

I hope we find ‘new good’ in our ‘new world’ as we adjust to our ‘new normal’.

How has lockdown changed you?
How has this time in our lives made you think?

Stay home, stay safe, stay sane.

Karl

Pandemic 2020: a summary of this week’s mini-series

Part 5 (5 of 5)
Coronavirus: Your health and your future after lockdown.

Over the course of this week I have shared a series of news updates with you, trying to summarise the present pandemic crisis in terms of your health, where we are now, and what you might like to focus on going forwards in order to protect yourself as much as possible.

I hope you have read the whole series and found them useful. If you have any questions, please do feel free to ask.

Your health and your future after lockdown.

Part 5 of 5 – Friday: 

Summary of the week, and your best steps forward for a safer, healthier future

On Monday I shared a summary of where we are so far, I provided you with lots of links for those who wanted to watch/read/learn more, and I listed some of the most clearly identified risk factors associated with the most severe outcomes for patients with Covid-19.

On Tuesday, I bullet-pointed the most pertinent point, that I believe everyone needs to understand. That is, when lockdown is over and we all go back out to get on with our work and our lives, the virus will still be there, and it will reach us. Lockdown won’t make it go away. It’s incredibly unlikely that a cure is coming any time soon. A vaccine might be two years away, or it might take the next 30 years or more. A world that includes coronavirus, but no cure and no vaccine, is the new normal, you had better get used to it.

On Wednesday, in Part 3, I drilled home the key point of this whole mini-series, that unless you stay home for the next decade, at some point in time it’s highly likely this virus will enter your body. When it does, the degree to which you suffer any symptoms, depends largely on how healthy you are. Therefore, whatever age, gender, ethnicity, colour, size or shape you are, the best thing you can do right now is start working on being healthier.

And on Thursday, in Part 4, I shared with you a massive list of (around 61) resources, mostly free, you can use to help you live a healthier life, and to reduce your risk in the new world order.
You can significantly improve your chances of only suffering minor symptoms with Covid-19 by being healthier.
People who are obese, diabetic, have poor metabolic function, poor cardiovascular fitness, and poor immune function, all face greater risk of suffering severe outcomes.

Closing thoughts – no, not sugar coated

This week, I have tried my best to give you a fair, unbiased, scientifically backed-up, referenced, up-to-date picture of the pandemic so far.

I’ve tried to give you clear, plain-English facts, not overly-dramatic, but I’ve not shied away from ugly truths.

I’ve tried to give you a ton of resources, many free, some paid for. If you chose to read all that has been offered, you’ll have hundreds of pages of reading to work through, and multiple hours of free, quality video from intelligent, trusted sources. I can assure you, every link I have provided this week has been read and vetted – it’s all solid and not a word of scammy fake news to be found. That’s my job, that’s what I do, I sift the crap from the truth and only give you the good stuff. That’s what my customers pay me for.

I hope this mini-series has been useful, and valuable to you.
If you have any questions, or if there is any way I can be of help to you, please feel free to ask.

To your future.
For now, stay home, stay safe, stay sane and stay healthy.

Karl

Living with coronavirus: your strategy in our new world, step by step

Part 4 (4 of 5)
Coronavirus: Your health and your future after lockdown.

This week I am sharing a series of news updates with you, trying to summarise the present pandemic crisis in terms of your health, where we are now, and what you might like to focus on going forwards in order to protect yourself as much as possible.

I hope you have been following this series so far, and I hope you are finding it useful. If you have any questions, please do feel free to ask.

Your health and your future after lockdown.

Part 4 of 5 – Thursday: 

Strategy for the future, step by step

On Monday I shared a summary of where we are so far, I provided you with lots of links for those who wanted to watch/read/learn more, and I listed some of the most clearly identified risk factors associated with the most severe outcomes for patients with Covid-19.

On Tuesday, I bullet-pointed the most pertinent point, that I believe everyone needs to understand. That is, when lockdown is over and we all go back out to get on with our work and our lives, the virus will still be there, and it will reach us. Lockdown won’t make it go away. It’s incredibly unlikely that a cure is coming any time soon. A vaccine might be two years away, or it might take the next 30 years or more. 

On Wednesday, in Part 3, I drilled home the key point of this whole mini-series, that unless you stay home for the next decade, at some point in time it’s highly likely this virus will enter your body. When it does, the degree to which you suffer any symptoms, depends largely on how healthy you are. Therefore, whatever age, gender, ethnicity, colour, size or shape you are, the best thing you can do right now is start working on being healthier.

The healthiest possible version of you will ride out this storm in the best possible shape.

What can you actually do?

Prevention, that’s the name of the game.
Our goal is to get you healthier, to prevent Covid-19 from making you unwell.
Over the last 3 days, we’ve set the stage, so I am not going to repeat it all here.

We’ve seen evidence to suggest that all these factors make for the most severe outcomes in Covid-19 patients:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure (and other markers for heart disease)
  • Poor metabolic function/metabolic syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Heart problems (this will include poor cardiovascular fitness)
  • Lung problems (this might include smoking, and being unfit and in poor physical shape)
  • COPD
  • Asthma
  • Autoimmune problems
  • Poor gut function (precursor and underlying causal factor in autoimmune problems)
  • Vitamin D deficiency

Our strategy going forward should be to do everything we can to reverse or mitigate these factors.
We’ve discussed that you can’t change your age, your sex or your ethnicity…but you can lose weight, improve your immune function, and improve your cardiovascular fitness, all of which will be of massive benefit to you.

So what can you do?
Let’s get straight to it.

Quit smoking

  • Seriously, just quit. Covid-19 is a lung disease for goodness sake. It’s very bad news for smokers.
  • Get help, it’s freetalk to your GP, even with social distancing in place you can access services to help you.

Drink less alcohol

Smoking, drinking, and eating junk food. Is it part of your personality?

Lose weight

Gut health and immune function

Would you just look at all ^ ^ ^ this ^ ^ ^ !!!
I did promise you back in Part 1 on Monday that every part of this series would include a ton of links to free help.
Hours of blogs, videos, webinars, free books, all to help you to be healthier and fitter so you don’t get sick when coronavirus reaches you, in 2020 or 2021. I’m really tryign to help.

Improve your fitness

All of the above – just get healthy!

Wash your hands!

  • Seriously, it’s just not a tough thing to do. Wash them often, properly, with warm water and soap, for like a whole minute, every time you are about to leave the house, and as soon as you come home. And consider wearing gloves when you are out. And clean that mobile phone sometimes!

Vitamins, supplements, protection

Holy moly!!!

That’s ^ ^ ^ a lot of stuff for you!

Tomorrow, in Part 5, the final part in this series, we’ll summarise the whole thing in brief and recap on the key take-aways. (After this, today, I’ll keep it brief, pinky promise!)

Until then, stay home, stay safe, stay sane and stay healthy.

Karl

Covid-19 Part 3: You, vulnerability, and your best defence.

Part 3 (3 of 5)
Coronavirus: Your health and your future after lockdown.

This week I am sharing a series of news updates with you, trying to summarise the present pandemic crisis in terms of your health, where we are now, and what you might like to focus on going forwards in order to protect yourself as much as possible.

I hope you have been following this series so far, and I hope you are finding it useful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Your health and your future after lockdown.

Part 3 of 5 – Wednesday: 

You, vulnerability, and your best defence.

On Monday I shared a summary of where we are so far, I provided you with lots of links for those who wanted to watch/read/learn more, and I listed some of the most clearly identified risk factors associated with the most severe outcomes for patients with Covid-19.

Then, yesterday, I bullet-pointed the most pertinent point, that I believe everyone needs to understand. That is, when lockdown is over and we all go back out to get on with our work and our lives, the virus will still be there, and it will reach us. Lockdown won’t make it go away. It’s incredibly unlikely that a cure is coming any time soon. A vaccine might be two years away, or it might take the next 30 years or more.

Today, in Part 3, the shortest of this 5-part series, I just want to drill home the main point of the whole series.
I have already mentioned it in both Part 1 and Part 2. But, for clarity…
Unless you stay home for the next decade, at some point in time it’s highly likely this virus will enter your body.
When it does, the degree to which you suffer any symptoms, depends largely on how healthy you are.
As we saw in Part 1, there are a few risk factors you can’t change, such as age, ethnicity, gender and so on.
And there is a segment of the population who have serious underlying health conditions. If you have a long-term heart problem or lung problem, or if you are a cancer sufferer or such like, no amount of “eat a healthy diet and get some exercise” advice is going to be of much help in mitigating the health risk Covid-19 presents. For these people, lifestyle modification is going to remain a key defence strategy. That’s not much fun, I’m sorry.

For everyone else, there is lots you can do to make yourself healthier, and reduce the likelihood that Covid-19 will put you in hospital.

In the vast majority of cases seen so far, it appears the health (and age, yes) of the person seems to be the major determining factor in how sick they get.
As we detailed previously, in Part 1, the people suffering the worst outcomes from Covid-19, including death, are the elderly (usually with underlying comorbidities) and those with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and more. We saw that obesity, COPD, heart disease, asthma, diabetes, poor immune function and vitamin D deficiency are all likely to lead – even in the young – to more severe symptoms and outcomes with Covid-19.

Allow me to repeat myself, please:

Covid-19: The degree to which you suffer any symptoms, depends largely on how healthy you are.

You can’t change your sex, your age or your ethnicity, but you can lose weight, get fitter, improve your cardiovascular fitness, improve your gut health and hence your immune function, and you can get out in the sunshine to top up your vitamin D.

Yes, it’s that simple.

My good friend and fellow PT said to me yesterday “Karlos old mate, I like your work, but you write in big fancy words, trying to sound all grown-up and scientific like a doctor. Some days mate, you just gotta tell it like it is, in plain English.”

He’s right.

OK, in plain English.

  • Over the next few years, this coronavirus will enter your body.
  • If you’re young and super healthy, there’s a high chance you won’t even notice and you won’t be ill at all.
  • If you are obese, diabetic, unfit, out of shape and you eat a shit diet, it’s going to make you very sick indeed. It could even kill you. Especially if you are male, and over 50, and Asian, and an ex-smoker.
  • Wise up, now, and get to work on making yourself healthier.
  • Stop procrastinating. No, the government are not going to pop round and give you a pill for this.
  • It’s down to you. Get to it. NOW.

Is that English plain enough?

Where to start?
Yesterday, at the end of Part 2, I listed a buch of free resources you might like to start with.

Here’s some more stuff for you.

Want to start by losing some weight?
Here – Free help for those who want it
Here – The 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet It’s 10,000 words, that’ll take you about 90 minutes to read through. It’s a concise summary of what I learned in my 28-year journey from fat to fit. I wrestled obesity, yo-yo diets, smoking and drinking for two decades, then I lost 101 pounds of fat (7 stone 3, 46 kilos) and got all fit and healthy. It took me 28 years to learn it. It took me hundreds of hours to nail the message down to 10,000 words. It took me several days to write it. And here it is – fucking free! (plain enough English, Joe mate?) If I can put in 28 years learning, blood sweat and tears running marathons, climbing mountains and lifting weights and facing my addictions and emotional demons, then go to the trouble of spending several days writing it up for you, and give it to you free, don’t tell me you don’t have time to read it!
Here – Mother Nature’s Diet in all the detail, complete with 28-day Meal Plan and home workout program.
Here – Nail the basics

Want to get fitter?
Hit me up, hire me as a PT, I’m “all stick and no carrot”, so be prepared for an arse kicking.
I asked one of my clients yesterday what she gets from training with me, she said “Karl gets me training even when I don’t feel like it, and I always feel better for doing so! Some good giggles along the way too.”
Want it for free? YouTube, go for it, if you have the motivation, there are a million free workouts on the Tube.

Want to improve your immune system?
Check out my friends great video (just 5 minutes) and upgrade your shopping list. She even made a FREE recipe book for you too, full of recipes that include all the foods you need.

Want it all in one package?
Weight loss, healthy living, better health all around, following a plan designed to minimise disease, improve heart health, improve gut health, boost your immune system and resist the signs of ageing. Includes actual workouts to do online together, complete with full instructions and warm-up, and downloadable meal plans. All in one place. Do it now.
Seriously, no excuses, over the next few years, your life may depend on it.

Tomorrow, in Part 4, like a healthy-living-link-fest, we’ll list everything you can do right now, while you’re at home on lockdown, to lose weight, improve your metabolic function, improve your immune health, improve your fitness and set yourself on a new path to a healthier future.

Until then, stay home, stay safe, stay sane and stay healthy.

Karl

After lockdown – Part 2: The pertinent bit you really need to know

Part 2 (2 of 5)
Coronavirus: Your health and your future after lockdown.

This week, I will be sharing a series of news updates with you, trying to summarise the present pandemic crisis in terms of your health, where we are now, and what you might like to focus on going forwards in order to protect yourself as much as possible. I will include links to some free resources (and a few paid products that can help you) for you every day.

Your health and your future after lockdown.

Part 2 of 5 – Tuesday: 

The pertinent bit that everyone really ought to understand.

Yesterday I shared a summary of where we are so far, I provided you with lots of links for those who wanted to watch/read/learn more, and I listed some of the most clearly identified risk factors associated with the most severe outcomes for patients with Covid-19.

If we had to summarise yesterday’s post in two sentences, it might be to say:

“Our world has changed; there is a new disease around and there is a high likelihood that at some point over the next few years, everyone is going to be exposed to it. The degree to which that might make you ill, depends on a few factors you can’t change (age, gender, ethnicity, ex-smoker status) and a few factors you can change – obesity, metabolic health, cardiovascular health and immune system health.”

The point of this post is to clarify the most important bit that I feel a lot of people don’t yet fully appreciate.

Again, for brevity and clarity, I’m going to bullet point this for you – I want the points to be clear, not lost in waffle:

  • Lockdown isn’t going to last forever.
  • When lockdown is over, and we all start going out again, to work, to socialise, to get on with our lives, many of us will then become exposed to this virus.
  • If it’s “not safe” for you out there now, in May 2020, what makes you think it will be safe for you out there in August, or November, or February next year?
  • It won’t be.
  • As explained in the lengthy and detailed webinar I shared yesterday, lockdown and social distancing is designed to suppress the peak, to save the NHS (and other health services in other countries) from being overwhelmed with high demand.
  • As John Cairns quite famously pointed out in November 1985 in Scientific American, (Quoted by Siddhartha Mukherjee here)  “In the history of medicine, no signficant disease has ever been eradicated by a treatment-related program alone. If one plotted the decline in deaths from tuberculosis, for instance, the decline predated the arrival of new antibiotics by several decades. Far more potently than any miracle medicine, relatively uncelebrated shifts in civic arrangements – better nutrition, housing, and sanitation, improved sewage systems and ventilation – had driven TB mortality down in Europe and America. Polio and smallpox had also dwindled as a result of vaccinations. The death rates from malaria, cholera, typhus, tuberculosis, scurvy, pellagra and other scourges of the past have dwindled in the US because humankind has learned how to prevent these disease.”
  • My point is: don’t think we will go into lockdown, sit home for 12 weeks, then come out and just go back to normal, “oh yippee everyone is safe again, they have a new pill that can cure this thing.” Nope. No major disease has ever been eradicated through cure – only through prevention.
  • So, lockdown is meant to suppress the peak, the surge. If tens of thousands of elderly, immune compromised and vulnerable people all got sick with Covid-19 at the same time, the NHS would be overwhelmed, and would have no capacity (beds, doctors, nurses, drugs, surgeons, etc.) to cope with all that they normally do – helping with heart attacks, cancer patients, car crashes, and so on.
  • In such a surge, not only would Covid-19 sufferers die, but so would many other people, through lack of resources to help them and treat them.
  • You can see, lockdown is essential to save lives, and there may be further lockdowns in the future (we don’t yet know if this virus will be seasonal or not).
  • But lockdown is not a cure. It won’t cure the disease or make the virus go away. All lockdown is doing is slowing the rate of spread.
  • It buys the NHS some time, to build new health care capacity.
  • I believe, that most of the ‘old, existing NHS infrastructure’ will then go back to doing its’ regular work, while the new capacity will come online to treat Covid-19.
  • It’s going to take some time to make, test, manufacture and roll out, a safe and effective vaccine. This might be 18 months, but it could be 18 years, or more, we just don’t know.
  • (Taking influenza as an example, in 1918 the pandemic killed many millions. Since then, a century of research and development, and we still have to ‘best guess’ a new batch of vaccines every year, and flu still kills half a million people every season. Please understand, coming out of lockdown doesn’t mean a vaccine is just around the corner and everything is going to be OK.)
  • And we can’t stay locked down for the long term, as the economic cost to the UK, and to the world, will ultimately cost more lives than we are trying to save.

I am sorry, this isn’t exactly cheery bedtime story stuff, is it.

Summary

Remember, yesterday in Part 1 I set out the basic facts we know so far, and concluded that the best thing you can do to help yourself is to use this time at home on lockdown to start working on yourself, start working on being the healthiest person you can be.

Today in Part 2, the pertinent bit that everyone really ought to understand is this:

  • There is a new virus around, and it’s not going away.
  • After lockdown, it’ll still be here.
  • Lockdown won’t cure it.
  • It’s incredibly unlikely that a ‘cure’ will be invented any time soon.
  • A vaccine might be two years away, or two decades, or more.
  • After lockdown, you have to go back out, to normal life, and when you do, you will be exposed to this virus.
  • How much the virus harms you, is partly (largely) determined by how healthy you are.
  • Time to focus on your own good health, it’s the best defence you have. More on this tomorrow, in Part 3. 

If you are ready to start taking your health seriously, if waiting for Part 3 tomorrow seems like a delayed opportunity, why not dive in to some of these free resources and get started today.
Subscribe to my blog.
Join my newsletter.
Download some free ebooks.
Subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Learn about the 12 Core Principles of Mother Nature’s Diet.

If you really want to get your game face on, check out my book now and order a copy ASAP while you have time at home to read it and implement healthy changes into your life right away.

Tomorrow, in Part 3, and on Thursday in Part 4, we’ll look in more detail at what you can do right now, while you’re at home on lockdown, to start getting healthier, improve your metabolic function, improve your immune health and improve your fitness.

Until then, stay home, stay safe, stay sane and stay healthy.

Karl

Coronavirus: Your health and your future after lockdown. Part 1

Coronavirus: Your health and your future after lockdown.

This week, I will be sharing a series of news updates with you, trying to summarise the present pandemic crisis in terms of your health, where we are now, and what you might like to focus on going forwards in order to protect yourself as much as possible. I will include links to some free resources (and a few paid products that can help you) for you every day.

Your health and your future after lockdown.

  • Part 1: What we have learned so far. Facts that matter, in brief.
  • Part 2: The pertinent bit that everyone really ought to understand.
  • Part 3: You, vulnerability, and your best defence.
  • Part 4: Strategy for the future, step by step.
  • Part 5: Summary of the whole week, brief and visual.

Part 1 of 5 – Monday:

What we have learned so far.

I have a lot to share this week, and I am sure you have better things to do that read self-indulgent waffle, so in the interests of keeping it brief and valuable, I am delivering this in the shortest, bullet-point style that I can.

If you want to read the lengthy version, and the research, follow all the links and ‘fill yer boots’ as there is plenty to take on board.

This post I wrote back in mid-March is a good place to start.

  • That post lays out how this pandemic is different from regular flu, why it’s different and who should be most concerned.
  • That post was written when the death toll in the UK was just 104 people, and it addresses the question “With only 104 deaths, is this a big deal?”
  • In the 46 days since that was written, the death toll in the UK has risen to 28,446. So, yes, this is a big deal. I send my condolences to all the friends and families of those 28,446 people.
  • It’s not too long, read it here if you need a refresh on the basic facts.

Next, for a complete primer on the novel coronavirus and Covid-19, you might like to watch this complete webinar.

For my Mother Nature’s Diet (MND) customers (MND Life!), I spend hours researching, checking endless news sources, speaking with doctor friends, trawling papers on PubMed, and digging through scientific references, and I write newsletters and blogs that present, to the best of my ability, facts that are proven and can be backed up. I make lengthy webinars, taking tens of hundreds of hours of books and research and scientific papers, and condensing it all down into an hour or so of straight talk, in plain English. This is what my customers pay me for.

I recently did just this for Covid-19. The end result was a 2-hour webinar presenting, at the time I made it, 9th April, the best information available.

I’ve made over 100 hours of these webinars over the last four years. Many of my customers said my Covid-19 webinar was excellent, full of facts, clarity, myth busting and some ideas about the future. I think this webinar is useful, so I am sharing it with you here.

Recorded on 9th April 2020, this two-hour webinar provides a summary of Covid-19 to the present time.

  • What is it?
  • How does it spread?
  • Who is most susceptible?
  • Myth busting.
  • What steps can you take to protect yourself?
  • After the lockdown, what does our future look like?

Here, again, is the webinar.

The core lesson to be learned, is that this lockdown is no holiday; there is no “just sit home, wait it out, and in a few weeks it’ll all blow over and everything will be back to normal” – not so.
The reality is that there is now a new infectious disease in our world, that we do not have a vaccine or a cure for, and so it may be months, years, or decades until we have one or the other, and until then, Covid-19 represents a serious health threat to the elderly, the weak, the sick, those with underlying health conditions, lung problems, poor metabolic health and sub-optimal immune function. (See below.)
At some point in time, unless you stay isolated, this virus will enter your body, and how you handle it when that happens, is going to depend on how healthy you are, as an individual. More on this is Part 3 and Part 4.

It’s relatively early days still with Covid-19. It can take years, decades, to complete rigorous studies and run medical trials to test our solutions, cures and more.
So, please take everything in that frame of reference. Little, so far, is “proven beyond doubt” and it will likely be months, probably years, before we iron out what is fact from what is coincidence, observation or fiction.

Risk factors for more severe illness with Covid-19

With that caveat in place, it looks so far like there are certain risk factors that determine the difference between someone testing positive for Covid-19 and showing no/mild symptoms, and someone ending up in hospital and possibly facing death.

There seems to be fairly extensive evidence that obesity is a major risk factor for more severe outcomes.
Here – The Lancet
Here – Imperial College London
Here – The Lancet
Here – EASO: The European Association for the Study of Obesity
Here – World Obesity Federation
Here – CDC, USA
Here – BBC, UK, via YouTube
Here – Diabetes.co.uk
Here – Telegraph, UK

Closely connected with obesity, there seems to be increased risk of severe outcomes for Covid-19 cases in diabetics and those who suffer from metabolic syndrome.

This pertinent quote from that text, highlighting that age, heart disease, diabetes, lung problems, COPD, asthma and obesity are all conditions placing persons at greater risk of more severe outcomes:

“Results – The median age was 72 years [IQR 57, 82; range 0, 104], the median duration of symptoms before admission was 4 days [IQR 1,8] and the median duration of hospital stay was 7 days [IQR 4,12].
The commonest comorbidities were chronic cardiac disease (29%), uncomplicated diabetes (19%), non-asthmatic chronic pulmonary disease (19%) and asthma (14%); 47% had no documented reported comorbidity.
Increased age and comorbidities including obesity were associated with a higher probability of mortality.”

In unattractively-plain English, that last line says “if you are older, and obese, you have a much higher likelihood of dying.”

It seems certain that Covid-19 causes major problems with oxygen saturation.
With lung function compromised, and oxygen transport low, it seems all persons with lung diseases, heart disease and cardiovascular disease are at increased risk of more severe outcomes.

Immunosuppressed or immune compromised persons seem to be at increaded risk too.
That might mean folks taking immunosuppressant medications (such as cancer patients, or those suffering severe autoimmune conditions) or people with compromised immune function, again may be a result of another underlying condition (such as cancer, Crohn’s or Ulcerative Colitis) that includes sub-optimal immune function as a factor or symptom.

There also seems to be growing evidence that ethnicity plays a role in risk. It seems that ethnic minority groups in the UK are at an increased risk.

This is a complex topic. It may be linked to underlying vitamin D deficiency, a topic I have written about many times before, and some experts are calling for immediate advice to all minority groups to begin vitamin D supplementation.

Another complex topic is income and inequality. It seems the lowest income peoples are at the greatest risk from Covid-19.

At this stage it’s impossible to demonstrate proven causes, but wealth inequality is often correlated with worse disese outcomes, for many poor health conditions, as lower income peoples living in more deprived areas are more prone to the effects of lower nutrient-quality diets, more mental health problems, often more alcohol abuse, obesity, less exercise, lower air quality, less access to outside space and so on.

Summary of risk factors

Some factors are beyond our control, some things we cannot change.

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • You may be an ex-smoker, like me
  • Gender: you may be male, like me
  • Wealth inequality

These things are all acknowledged risk factors.

Additionally, if you have COPD, or suffer asthma, or have some other long-term underlying lung problem, it’s unlikely that we can effect any major, rapid improvement through lifestyle and dietary changes.

But, some things we can influence.
Some things you can work on while you’re at home on lockdown, or longer term while we are living in an uncertain world, awaiting the development of a safe vaccine.

  • You can manage your weight and keep your body mass in the healthy range.
  • You can work on your fitness, which helps heart health, cardiovascular health, lung function, and stable, efficient metabolic function.
  • You can clean up and/or optimise your diet for improved gut health, which is a major control of immune system function.

This is Part 1 of 5. Over the next 4 days, the rest of this series of updates will focus on the factors we can work on.

In order to reduce our risk of more severe outcomes, we know we should be healthy and if you are obese or overweight, now would be an excellent time to focus on weight loss.

We also know that poor immune function is a major risk factor. So, we want good immune function.

And finally, we know that fitness is a huge boost to our health. We know that being fit helps us to have a healthy strong heart, healthy cardiovascular system, and healthy lung function. We know that exercise has long been promoted by the NHS as a ‘miracle cure’ for many of our physical ills and mental health problems, and we know that exercise, combined with a healthy diet, aids weight loss.

So, there is much we can do to help protect ourselves.
If you have been paying attention, you’ll have figured it out by now – the goal is “be healthy”!!!!

Now we have laid the foundations, I’ll be back tomorrow with a shorter, punchier message, AKA “The pertinent bit that everyone really ought to understand.”

Then, in Parts 3 and 4, later this week, we’ll look in more detail at what you can do right now, while you’re at home on lockdown, to help protect yourself.

Until then, stay home, stay safe, stay sane and stay healthy.

Karl