Lockdowns have helped many of us avoid the coronavirus, so far. But if you’re like a lot of folks, you’ve paid the price with an expanded waistline.
It’s really no surprise. After all, we’ve been stuck at home with MORE free time but LESS to do. And that’s led to a lot of sitting, snacking, and TV watching.
So if you long ago gave up on any “bikini body” or “6-pack ab” goals, and resigned yourself to a Rona Gut instead, you’re in good company.
But researchers have a warning.
Those extra pounds may be doing more than just making you grow out of our seldom-used “going-out” clothes. Obesity can lead to a condition inside your body that sends your risk for serious health problems soaring.
And experts say that could include having a tougher time fighting the coronavirus infection if it strikes.
An expanding waistline may mean an expanded risk
Now, you don’t need me to tell you that carting around extra pounds isn’t exactly helping your health. Obesity is a risk factor for heart problems, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and more.
But it turns out those aren’t the only risks. For folks who are overweight, a COVID-19 infection can be an ESPECIALLY brutal battle.
You’ve probably heard before that the coronavirus can affect people very differently. Some folks barely feel sick at all while others end up in the ICU. And it’s not always clear who’ll end up on which end of the spectrum.
But researchers say that just like with people who have other preexisting conditions, such as heart disease or diabetes, it’s increasingly clear that people who are obese have a higher risk of…
- severe illness
One study found that even “mild” obesity can DOUBLE the risk of respiratory failure. And it can QUADRUPLE the likelihood of ICU admission in folks who catch COVID-19.
In fact, some experts believe the higher U.S. obesity rate could be a key reason why America is suffering from a much worse outbreak than the rest of the world.
Now, the latest research shows what may be the reason for the link – and it comes down to leptin.
Winning the obesity battle reduces leptin levels
Leptin is a hormone that’s produced by your fat cells. It helps your body regulate appetite, metabolism, and specific cells involved in fighting off infections.
You need leptin. But as your belly blows up, so do your leptin levels until they’re too high. And those excess leptin levels trigger chronic low-level inflammation throughout your body, including inside your lungs.
The authors of the new study say that leads to…
- LESS ability to fight infection
- REDUCED lung capacity
And when you throw an infection into the mix that, they said, is a “recipe for disaster.”
We need more research to see if cutting leptin levels can give you a better shot against the coronavirus. But we DON’T need more studies to know that both weight loss and normalized leptin levels can help your OVERALL health. Together they can help reduce inflammation and the long-term risk of chronic disease.
Now keep in mind, leptin isn’t the enemy. You need healthy levels for certain systems to function correctly. So your goal isn’t to blindly eliminate the hormone. Instead, you just want to reduce the chronically high levels that lead to “leptin resistance” or when your body no longer properly responds to the hormone.
The first step is to do your best to drop the lockdown pounds (along with any other extra weight you may have gained over the years). Since obesity can quadruple your leptin levels, it’s the best way to normalize your numbers.
And it turns out the second step is an easy way to achieve the first.
You can help fight inflammation naturally by avoiding added sugars and processed foods, replacing “junk” oils like vegetable oil and soybean oil with olive oil, and getting more sleep. Not only will your inflammation levels drop, so will your weight and your leptin levels right along with it.