Mikki Reilly: In Fight Against COVID-19, Don’t Ignore Exercise, Diet and a Healthy Lifestyle | Your Health

Last month marked the one-year anniversary of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first stay-at-home order to try to thwart the coronavirus as it took hold in California.

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Mikki Reilly (Fitness Transform photo)

As I look back over the past year I realize that, while there has been a strong focus on mask wearing, social distancing and getting vaccinated, we have not received any information or health education on how to stay healthy and fit.

Perhaps this would be understandable at the beginning of the pandemic, since we did not know how lifestyle-based approaches would affect outcomes for this pathogen. However, now there is plenty of research to support the premise that exercise, real food and a healthy lifestyle are critically important in reducing our susceptibility.

Just last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a study that found almost 80 percent of those who died from COVID-19 were overweight or obese. And according to the latest statistics, 42 percent of the U.S. population is considered obese!

For decades, health-care professionals have cautioned people about the dangers of obesity. But those warnings have been largely ignored.

There could not be a better time than right now for public health to step up and educate the masses on what a healthy lifestyle looks like. COVID-19 is a much needed wakeup call for an overweight and out-of-shape America!

Everyone knows that exercise promotes good health. Countless studies have shown that people who work out are less likely than sedentary people to develop numerous health problems, including obesity, diabetes and hypertension, the most prevalent comorbidities associated with COVID-19.

One of the greatest benefits of exercise is how it affects metabolism. Metabolism is the set of cellular mechanisms that generate energy from the food we eat and the oxygen we breathe in order to power every cell in the body, including the immune system. When these energy-producing pathways are running smoothly we have optimal metabolic health.

Beyond exercise, the Paleo diet has been shown to be effective in providing long-term weight loss, reductions in blood pressure and even reversal of type-2 diabetes.

The Paleo diet is primarily anti-inflammatory; it is naturally low in carbohydrates, high in omega-3s and low in omega-6s, which makes it very effective for reducing inflammation. This diet consists of a variety of nutrient dense foods such as grass-fed meats, wild seafood and shellfish, fruits and vegetables, and nuts and seeds.

Others may benefit from the low-carbohydrate ketogenic diet. With a keto diet, you drastically reduce your carbohydrate intake and replace it with healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts, and the fats from fish, eggs and grass-fed meat.

Reducing your carbohydrates puts your body into ketosis, a metabolic state where your energy comes from ketone bodies instead of glucose.

The ketogenic diet is a natural way to recalibrate your body’s metabolism and dramatically improve its overall ability to function. In following the diet, your body will reward you by feeling and performing better, while dropping unnecessary body fat — fast.

Time-restricted eating is another dietary approach that aims to help you lose weight and boost metabolic health. Time-restricted eating is a form of intermittent fasting in which you compress your food intake into a certain number of hours each day. People who practice time-restricted eating typically eat during an 8-12-hour window and fast the remaining 12-16 hours.

From an evolutionary perspective, time-restricted eating makes sense because early humans did not have access to food all day long as we do today in our modern world. Thus, eating without periods of fasting, which occurred naturally when food was scarce, may lead to disruption of the circadian rhythm and contribute to obesity and metabolic disease, over time.

— Santa Barbara fitness professional Mikki Reilly is the owner of Fitness Transform and the author of Your Primal Body: The Paleo Way to Living, Lean, Fit and Healthy at Any Age. She can be contacted at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are her own.

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