Letters

Reducing COVID risks 

Dear Editor,

I am a professional bodybuilder, personal trainer, and nutrition consultant. I recently used my talents to win The Bahamas two more gold medals in the 2021 Central America and Caribbean Championships, and I am currently using my expertise to coach over 50 people locally and internationally on their path to better health.

I am writing this letter in the hopes of helping our nation get out of this pandemic in a healthy, sustainable way.

People often say that COVID-19 has a 99 percent survival rate, and we shouldn’t have to worry.

This is dismissive, and although factually true, is misrepresenting the true reality of the virus.

Every single person is different. We all have different bodies, different diets, different activity levels. We work different jobs with different levels of stress. We even sleep differently.

Because of these differences, we all have different “risk profiles”. So, when discussing the risks of COVID, we should take care to acknowledge these differences.

Some of the biggest factors in someone’s life that can make them susceptible to COVID are age, body fat percentage, fitness level, and sunlight exposure.

The bad news is that we cannot change someone’s age. The good news is that we can change the aging process. We do this by tackling the other three factors.

Body fat percentage

In a study conducted in the UK with over 334,000 people, researchers found a direct correlation between being hospitalized and having a high body mass index (BMI).

People with a healthy BMI were hospitalized at a rate of 12 percent. Overweight people were hospitalized at a rate of 19 percent. People suffering from stage one obesity were hospitalized at a rate of 23 percent, and those suffering from stage two obesity were hospitalized at a rate of 42 percent.

Diet and exercise are the biggest factors in determining body fat.

The food pyramid as we know it is wrong, and likely upside down. It informs people that most of their diet should be starch or carbohydrate based, when in reality, people should eat a balanced diet of mostly proteins, some carbs, and some fats. And the foods that they eat should have a low glycemic index.

With proper eating and 30 minutes of exercise a day, every Bahamian can enjoy a healthy BMI.

When hospitalized, those with lower body fat percentage suffered less severe symptoms, and had a higher chance of survival.

If the average survival rate is 99 percent, we can safely say that the survival rate for people of all ages with a healthy weight is on average at least 99.9 percent.

Fitness

It is a common misconception that skinny means healthy. This is not the case. The type of calories you take into your body can often matter more than the amount of calories.

An example of this is eating a spicy chicken sandwich vs. eating a big plate of fish and grilled vegetables, which is a complete protein.

The second may have more calories, but the first is laden with partially hydrogenated fats.

A study was conducted in China earlier this year to investigate the correlation between the “Nutritional Status and Prognosis of COVID-19 Patients”.

They found that people with a low CONUT score were on average 10 times more likely to experience adverse outcomes than those with a high CONUT score.

What is the CONUT score and how can we lower it?

It is based on serum albumin concentration, cholesterol level, and lymphocyte count. We can lower it by staying properly hydrated (a gallon of water per day), eating real, unprocessed foods, and maintaining a healthy immune system by getting all your vitamins.

If you have a healthy BMI, and a low CONUT score, you can increase your survival rate from COVID to at least 99.99 percent for all ages.

Sunlight exposure

One of the least talked about yet important factors is vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is unique because you do not get it from your diet.

Instead, your body makes it using sunlight, similar to how plants make their own food with photosynthesis.

A study was conducted in Europe in March of this year. Researchers found that countries with a prevalence of severe vitamin D deficiency were 50 times more likely to suffer the worst symptoms of COVID-19.

They also found that having normal vitamin D levels made people almost 60 times more likely to have a mild COVID infection than suffer an ordinary or severe infection.

So, how do we get our vitamin D levels up? Go out into the sun!

Now, don’t bake in the sun; we don’t want to increase risk of skin cancer. But we should be aiming to get at least 20 minutes of midday sunlight per day, and if possible, broken up into increments throughout the day.

We think that this is no problem because we live in The Bahamas, but with COVID fears a lot of us are staying inside our homes and avoiding the outdoors for risk of spread.

The good news is that if you want to socialize, doing it outside in the sun is the safest place to do it, with less than 10 percent of transmission occurring outdoors!

What can we conclude from looking at only these three factors?

By eating right, exercising frequently, and going out into the sun, we can reduce our risk of COVID from less than one percent, to less than 0.001 percent.

Collectively, as a nation, we could decrease our hospitalizations from COVID, and more importantly, deaths, from 500 to five, if we take care of our health.

As a personal trainer, as a nutrition consultant, and most importantly, as a Bahamian, I want to see our people beat this virus.

If you or anyone you know is looking to decrease their risk from COVID, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, or just get healthy, find me and I can help you.

Contact me at www.bahamabushcraft.com and let’s protect our people from the risks of bad health.

Wellington Wallace 

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