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Posts tagged ‘covid-19’

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

This won’t “all be over soon” and lockdown isn’t the end of the story…

Coronavirus and Covid-19: where we are at so far, and what does the future look like after the (this? First?) lockdown?

Here at Mother Nature’s Diet HQ, I run a members-only monthly subscription club called MND Life!

For my members, I make two webinars every month, and some other content.
These webinars, about all aspects of health and fitness and disease prevention, are normally locked away in our members-only password-protected portal.

Last week, I made a webinar about coronavirus and Covid-19.

It turned out to be a long one, almost two hours, but my MND Life! members tell me it’s one of the best I have ever made.
I have decided to share it here for you, because it’s important stuff.
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 offers a serious health threat to the elderly, the weak, the sick, those with underlying health conditions, lung problems, poor metabolic health and autoimmune conditions.
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.
I suggest you watch the webinar to learn more.

I urge you to take time to watch this, because there is some solid guidance in here that may help you later this year or next.

Please feel free to share this with friends and family if you want to, if it helps you.

Coverage includes: 

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?

Please remember I am not a qualified doctor. The value of my work at Mother Nature’s Diet is taking the overwhelming mass of information and condensing it down into plain simple English for folks. There is a ton of b/s circulating on social media – part of the value of what I do for my MND Life! members is cutting through the crap, doing the research for you, so nail down the basic facts you can trust. The content of this webinar represents my best knowledge to date, but in time as we learn about the virus, everything I say may prove to be wrong.

All intelligent comments and questions welcome.

Watch the webinar for free, in full, right here.

Note: in time, once I am tested for C-19, I will share my test result here for your interest.

Login, or join up, to MND Life! here if you are interested in learnign more about healthy living in every area of your life.
There has never been a more important time to take your healthy seriously.

To your good health!

Karl

Coronavirus, climate change, experts and predictions

In 2006, Dr Larry Brilliant delivered this excellent TED talk, explaining how smallpox was eradicated and predicting that a worldwide pandemic would emerge some day.
If you can spare 25 minutes to watch the whole thing, then please do, because it’s excellent, but if you just want “the gravity of the situation” then start at about 12.5 minutes in.
Dr Larry Brilliant is what we call “an expert” – a qualified medical doctor, he’s worked in medicine and epidemiology for 30 odd years, been all over the world working ‘on the front line’ helping people in disease hotspots, he’s a university professor and has worked for years for the World Health Organisation (WHO).

In 2015, Bill Gates delivered this superb TED talk where he argues that the world is not ready for the next great pandemic; he argues that countries should prepare for it like they prepare for conflict, with rapid-response teams on stand-by, ‘troops’ trained, equipment ready for action.
Bill Gates is no fool. He was the richest person in the world for 18 years, and he is widely respected as the greatest philanthropist alive today; with his wife Melinda he heads the world’s largest charitable foundation, and he spends all his time working on public health initiatives and disease eradication. It’s fair to say he is “an expert”.

In 2017, Michael Osterholm PhD authored a book called Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs. The book details how unprepared we are for a viral pandemic and warns of the dire consequences of an outbreak.
Mr Osterholm is a smart guy, a PhD, epidemiologist and university professor, he’s studied infectious diseases and how they spread for over 35 years. He’s very much “an expert”.
If you are interested in what he has to say about Covid-19, listen to this Joe Rogan Experience podcast, it’s truly insightful.

In October 2019, experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies ran a modelling exercise to try to understand what might happen if a novel coronavirus pandemic broke out. “For our fictional pandemic, we assembled about 20 experts in global health, the biosciences, national security, emergency response and economics” – they concluded that governments were not prepared, not taking the threat of a killer virus seriously enough.

Also in October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, with the World Economic Forum and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, ran a forecasting exercise to model what would happen if a global pandemic coronavirus broke out. They have been modelling such scenarios since 2001.

Above are just a few examples, but there are more, if you look for them, plenty more examples of experts warning us that a novel virus, particularly a coronavirus, could break out, likely starting in South East Asia, and cause extensive devastation, harm and loss of life. Beyond the immediate health impacts and death toll, these experts all warn of extensive economic costs, worldwide losses of trillions, plunging the global economy into recession/depression for a decade or two.

The message from these experts over the last 15 years has been “spend some millions now, in a coordinated global effort, to avoid disaster, death, and losses of trillions in the future”.

Social media is awash with stories sharing these predictions… “Scientists said this would happen…governments should have prepared” and “So and so made a talk about this, such and such wrote a book about that…people should have listened.” Oh, how folks love to blame and point fingers after the event.

The folks who write these books, and deliver these TED talks, and run these non-profit organisations and teach in universities and advise governments…these folks are experts.
They know their subject.
They’ve studied it for years.
They’ve spent a decade in university.
They’ve been working in their chosen field for 20 or 30 years.
Maybe that’s why they’re called “experts”.

Maybe we should listen.

Drawing parallels

As I observe the unfolding crisis, I can’t help but think about global warming, or climate change as it’s called these days.

In 2006, the then UK government commissioned esteemed economics professor Lord Nicholas Stern to produce The Stern Review, which was to become the foundation stone and guiding wisdom for UK policy on addressing greenhouse gas emissions and other measures to combat climate change.
Lord Stern famously suggested urgent action, that the UK (and, by extention, all other developed nations) commit to actions to mitigate climate change which would likely cost our nation around 2% of annual GDP. His suggestions strongly pushed action now (from 2006) costing circa 2% of GDP, in order to avoid total disaster unfolding in the future which would cost our children circa 20% of GDP in their lifetimes, when the damage is done. In layman’s terms, it goes a bit like this… “it’s cheaper for society to raise taxes now to transition to solar panels and electric cars, than to melt the ice caps and expect our grandchildren to build seawalls and storm defences when oceans rise in 2075.”

Since the 1980s, and even before, scientists and experts have been warning governments, the media, and all of us that human actions (burning fossil fuels, cutting down forests, polluting natural environments and depleting fertile top soils) is doing unimaginable harm to the planet, and if we keep doing it then things will end in unmitigated disaster.
In the 1980s they knew.
Governments were warned in 1986.
By the time of the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, it was already high on the international agenda.
The IPCC issued major reports in 1992, 1996 and 2001, urgently warning governments and citizens the world over that global warming was a massive and growing threat.

And as the years pass, the warnings become more frequent, more urgent, more stark, more hopeless…
In 2009 Copenhagen summit is last chance to save the planet, Lord Stern
In 2016 Will We Miss Our Last Chance to Save the World From Climate Change?
In 2018 Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change – this is a long read but it’s staggering and worth the time while you’re at home on lockdown. Seriously.
In late 2018 ‘We are last generation that can stop climate change’ – UN summit
In 2019 Only 11 Years Left to Prevent Irreversible Damage from Climate Change – United Nations General Assembly
In late 2019 Climate change close to ‘point of no return’, UN secretary general warns
In 2020 There’s no ‘deadline’ to save the world. Everything we do now has to pass the climate test

Frankly, it’s depressing and frightening stuff, but that’s no excuse to bury our heads in the sand and leave it for our children and grandchildren to suffer: that would be intergenerational tyranny, and it’s the wrong thing to do. Don’t be ignorant, we are the generations burning coal and oil, it’s fair that we suffer 2% loss in our economies now, rather than go on enjoying our gas-guzzling cars, cheap flights and imported clothes, forcing our grandchildren to suffer a 20% economic loss in the future. Many of those grandchildren are not even born yet, to burden them with our legacy would be, to quote Ray Anderson of Interface Carpets (in the film The Corporation (2003)), “taxation without representation” and it’s not fair.

The world over, 97% of scientists and experts agree that global warming is real, is caused by humans, and is accelerating fast towards a point of no return.
NASA: Scientific Consensus: Earth’s Climate is Warming
American Meteorological Society on Climate Change
Consensus on consensus: a synthesis of consensus estimates on human-caused global warming
AAAS Reaffirms Statements on Climate Change and Integrity

The message from these experts over the last 20+ years has been “spend some billions now, in a coordinated global effort, to avoid disaster, death, and losses of almost immeasurable trillions in the future”.

The folks who write these reports, reviews, papers and books, and deliver these conferences and speeches, and run these non-profit organisations and teach in universities and advise governments…these folks are experts.
They know their subject.
They’ve studied it for years.
They’ve spent a decade in university.
They’ve been working in their chosen field for 20 or 30 years.
Maybe that’s why they’re called “experts”.

Maybe we should listen.

The experts were right about coronavirus. Perhaps they are right about climate change.

If you think coronavirus is a nightmare, wait until your children see what climate change can do.

It’s time to take this shit seriously.

Stay home, stay safe, stay sane.

To your continuing good health.

Karl

 

Coronavirus (Covid-19): Opinion and Facts

Coronavirus (COVID-19).
A few thoughts. Entirely my personal opinions, and please remember that I am not medical qualified or trained.

Firstly, my thoughts go out to anyone sick, anyone who has loved ones who are sick, and anyone who has suffered loss in this unprecedented international crisis.

Secondly, that word, unprecedented, you have likely heard that quite a few times in recent days.
And it is most certainly true.
This crisis is unprecedented, no one alive today has lived through anything like it. This is the biggest health challenge we’ve faced here in Europe since the second world war. It’s not that a pandemic virus was unexpected, indeed a variety of experts have written a variety of books over the last 12 years warning that something exactly like this would happen. But expecting something might happen, and it actually happening are two very different things.
This disease is new, and the speed, scale and scope of it’s spread and it’s effects are unknown and unpredictable.
The scale of the challenge is unprecedented, and the details of the disease unknown.
Please remember that when you are feeling frustrated or angry that “they” aren’t beating it or doing enough to fight it. “They” are our elected officials, and if “they” had taken billions more in taxes from us every year for the last decade to stockpile ventilators and face masks and a hundred other things that “we may or may not need, at some unknown time in the next year, or ten, or thirty” then everyone would have been in uproar.
Please be patient, tolerant, and understanding. Please show compassion and trust that the experts are trying their best to navigate this enormous challenge.
This is going to be hard on everyone.
They don’t have all the answers yet.
You’re not the only victim; someone else has got it worse than you; someone else is dying; be patient.

Thirdly, I want to extend my thanks, respect and gratitude to all those ‘front line’ workers and ‘key workers’ who are working round the clock to help fight this disease. From the nurses and doctors treating patients, the care workers and hospice nurses helping the elderly and sick every day, to the farmers producing food, the truck drivers getting it the shops, and the folks who keep the shops open, the lights on and the petrol stations open.
There are a thousand professions involved in keeping our infrastructure functioning, and a thousand more working to fight this monumental challenge, and I am very grateful to them all for their hard work.

Social media and armchair professors

Beware of Facebook, in particular.

When our news was saturated by Syria or the immigrant crisis, suddenly everyone with a Facebook account thinks they are a political expert. When Brexit was 24/7 everyone seems to write like they have a PhD in economic policy. Now with COVID-19 every armchair commentator thinks they are some kind of epidemiological expert.

It’s immensely difficult to sift through the noise to understand what’s true. This pandemic, more so than Syria, the immigrant issue, or Brexit, is astronomically fast moving. Three weeks ago I thought it was far less serious than I think today.

The media is in frenzy.
Social media is out of control.
It’s not helped by the way so much is stated by wannabe experts “You must do this…” “We should all do that…” rather than “In my opinon…” and “I’m not an expert but I think…”

The health challenge

To the best of my knowledge, from my own efforts to establish what is factual, the seriousness of this illness appears to depend “almost entirely” on the health of the individuals.

That is, some people (many people) have tested positive and they continue to show no symptoms at all.
Hardly a great “global killer”.
But to the weak, those with underlying health problems, those with compromised immune function, this can represent a 10% or greater chance of death, and that’s extremely serious and worrying.

So far, the overwhelming majority of cases, and deaths, are in the elderly, the weak, the vulnerable. Circa 81% of cases exhibit ‘mild’ symptoms at most, and virtually all deaths have been among the elderly and those with underlying health conditions (can be of any age).

To many, to pretty healthy people, this disease is unlikely to cause symptoms any more serious than a regular cold or a bout of flu (which is not very nice).
But that statement needs to be taken seriously – flu is a massive global killer.
Every year, flu kills between 200,000 and 700,000 people worldwide.
Just run that again, flu kills half a million people per year. HALF A MILLION.

So far, COVID-19 (recognised as a similar-behaving type of virus to influenza, a “related virus” if you like) has claimed 8700 lives, not a patch on regular annual flu season. But we must understand this is a new virus, we do not have a vaccine for this, and it might take a month, or more than a decade, to develop one that is safe and effective. Millions of vulnerable people could die in that time.

It’s important to understand that word – vulnerable.

Influenza kills half a million people per year, and it’s the weak, those who suffer compromised immune function, who become overwhelmed.

To someone healthy with a strong immune system, this disease may mean you cough for two weeks and then get better. But to someone who has cancer and their immune system is already battered by their disease and their chemotherapy treatment, it can bring premature death. To an elderly person with depleted lung function, this disease can bring pneumonia and death.

Regular flu season kills half a million per year. COVID-19 might kill half a million people over the next year, or it might kill far less, or it might kill far more (God forbid), I have no idea, but the point being, it’s the same family of diseases, the same causal pathway, the same threat to the vulnerable.

So what is different between this and regular flu?

The key difference is that we’ve (we, being the scientific and medical community) been battling flu and it’s variants for the last century. It comes in moderately-predictable seaonal patterns, and most all countries have systems in places to protect the vulnerable, especially vaccinations.

I personally do not believe that millions upon millions of normal healthy persons in the 10 to 60 age range need an annual flu jab…but should the weak, sick, and elderly have a jab? Absolutely, yes they should.

With COVID-19, we do not have a vaccine.
Scientists could probably make one tomorrow, but it then may require 1 to 20 years of testing to know if it’s safe, before rolling it out to millions of people. We can be certain labs the world over are buzzing with activity 24/7 right now as teams of scientists work round the clock on trying to make this happen as fast as possible.

So, taking the above into account, is COVID-19 more or less of a danger than regular flu?
To healthy folks, it’s probably about the same.
To the sick, weak, immune compromised, it’s considerably more serious, primarilly because we lack an effective vaccine.
To those people, regular flu is also a massive threat, it takes half a million lives per year…but the difference is, we have vaccines, and the weak and sick need them and should take them. If we did not have them, half a million might be several millions.

Social distancing and self-isolation

Is it neccessary? Yes, it is, and we should. At this stage, you have surely seen all the charts and graphs explaining “squashing the peak”, how slowing the spread of this virus is about helping national health services to cope with the outbreak. There are only so many hospital beds, ventilators, masks, doctors and nurses. They simply cannot cope if everyone gets sick at once. It was and still is overwhelm in Italy, and other countries are trying hard to avoid that happening.

Any social distancing that us strong, young, healthy folks do now, is more about slowing the spread to protect the elderly and vulerable, than it is about avoiding any illness for ourselves.
This is about slowing and controlling the spread…so that as the weak and elderly become sick, the health service can cope with treating them, and avoid them becoming fatalities. Experts suggest that in time, over this year and next, everyone will get this virus at some point…the key point now is stopping everyone getting it at the same time.

So, please be sensible, if you are coughing, take the week at home; if your kid is coughing, keep them in the home for the week. It’s not difficult to make common sense decisions.
Panic buying 96 rolls of loo paper isn’t clever, it just denies ordinary folks their regular weekly needs, and hypes the media frenzy even more.
Sensible decisions, not silly impulse decisions.

Is this really a big deal?

Some folks have been asking “Is it really such a big deal? Only 104 people have died in the UK, in the grand scheme of things, that’s not so many…doesn’t flu kill thousands every year anyway? So is C-19 any worse than normal flu season?”

The answer seems quite straight forward to me.
Yes, as outlined above, flu does tend to kill between 200,000 and 700,000 people per year worldwide. But imagine this – imagine C-19 is a “new flu” that we have never seen before. The half-a-million people who die from flu every year, might be one million, or two million, if we didn’t have vaccines, couldn’t predict the pattern, and hospital services had no time to prepare for a predictable outbreak.
That’s roughly what we are seeing with C-19.
It’s new, unknown, unpredictable, and we don’t know much about it, and we don’t have a vaccine for it.
If C-19 was “a new flu” then compared to regular flu season, this could rip through the weak, the elderly, the sick and the immuno-suppressed, and take several million lives.
So yes, this is a big deal, slowing the spread so that health services can cope, and giving scientists time to develop a vaccine and learn more about antibodies, will likely save millions of lives.

These are just my evolving thoughts, as I observe and try to understand this unfolding situation.
Yes, I have a child with a cough, at home off school.
Yes, today all the schools closed, so now my whole gfamily is home.
Yes I have lost money in my business, through cancellations.
Yes, I think this is serious, far more serious than I thought a month ago, or two weeks ago.
No, I haven’t panic shopped for anything.

This post ^ ^ ^ ^ does not say “coronavirus isn’t a threat, it’s just like normal flu, so stop worrying”.
This post says “normal flu kills half a million people every year, but thanks to vaccines and predictability, our health care professionals stop that figure from being several million. COVID-19 isn’t yet predictable, and we don’t have a vaccine, so it’s like flu was in 1918…and that’s actually pretty scary.”

Can you see the difference? In layman’s terms, it pretty much is “just like flu” but without 100 years of knowledge and expertise, and that makes it very worrying for the vulnerable.

These are my best efforts at understanding this thing so far.
I teach folks weight loss and fitness, I am not a doctor nor epidemiologist, so please take my thoughts with a big does of caution, and remember I am not medically trained, so I may be wrong, and I am just trying to learn, without sensationalism or bias.

As I try to understand more, I’ll share my thoughts going forward.

To your good health, stay safe out there, please follow the advice and guidelines,

Karl