Updated: Jan 25, 2021
The new year usually brings around renewed hopes and motivation to improve aspects of our lives. Be it time management, fitness, healthy eating, work-life balance, we usually have something that we are optimistic about improving in the new year.
However, 2021 is different, with lots of scornful commentary about how "My 2-week trial is up 2021, and I want to unsubscribe". With so much bad news (related to the pandemic and not), many seem to have given up on the idea of making 2021 a better year than 2020 and are setting this year aside as another wasted thread in the tapestry of life.
Still, I'm here to tell you why you shouldn't give up on the idea of a New Year's Resolution in 2021, especially ones pertaining to your health.
This pandemic has been going on long enough that there is reliable research out there now to indicate what may put you at risk for a more severe course of Covid-19, possibly ending in a hospital or ICU admission, or even death.
Sadly, for North American's, it's not good news. Here's why:
About 1 in 12 Canadians or American adults have diagnosed heart disease.
Approximately 1 in 4 Canadians are affected by high blood pressure (closer to 1 in 2 American adults).
Around 1 in 3 Canadians have diabetes or prediabetes (1 in 10 Americans have Diabetes and 1 in 3 have prediabetes).
Around 1 in 4 Canadians are obese (42% of the US population is obese, that's almost half!) and more are overweight.
Why does it matter that North American's are so overweight, so metabolically, and so vascularly sick?
Here's what the research is saying about Covid-19 and comorbidities like excessive weight, heart disease, and diabetes.
Having cardiovascular disease may put you at 3 times the risk of a severe course of Covid-19 that those without.
Having high blood pressure may put you at 2 times the risk of a severe course of Covid-19 than those without.
If you have either, you have 4 times the risk to end up in the ICU.
If you have COPD, you may have 6 times the risk to end up with a severe disease and 18 times the risk to end up in ICU.
Having Diabetes may put you at close to 3 times the risk of developing severe Covid-19.
If you are obese, you have 7 times the risk of needing a ventilator compared to non-obese.
Even being just overweight (BMI of 28) may increase your risk of a severe course of Covid-19 by 6 times.
Research indicates those with critical condition from Covid-19 were more likely to have higher visceral (abdominal) fat.
I wish I could say that "I don't mean to scare you", but I do. So few people are aware of how their comorbidities actually put them at a higher risk of a severe reaction to Covid-19, and I want to share this information. Not so that you start using more hand sanitizer and face masks, but so that you feel empowered to change those statistics.
To me, you aren't a number. You are an incredible person able to live a healthy and happy life- even if you DO contract Covid-19.
So how can you change those statistics?
"The evidence is strong, consistent, and compelling that a diet of predominantly, or even exclusively, whole plant foods can promote health, selectively treat and reverse disease, and confer comparable benefit to the planet," (Katz, 2019).
You just need to visit Forks over Knives to learn about some of the incredible success stories of those reversing disease on a plant-forward diet.
Shifting your diet towards a predominantly whole plant-foods diet does not have to happen overnight. You can begin today by setting one goal for this week. I've included some sample goals you can try if you are interested in making your health a priority in 2021.
Eat one whole-foods, plant-based meal for dinner this week
Swap one soda (diet or not), sweetened coffee beverage, juice, sports drink, or energy drink for water each day/week
Choose fruit as a snack or dessert at least once per day
Choose whole grains 50-75% of the time (whole grain bread, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
Add beans to at least one meal each day/week
Eat three servings of green leafy vegetables (Spinach, kale, chard, bok choy, etc.) each week.
These are just some ideas, but you can make whatever change (small or big) you feel you are ready for at this time.
Despite the doomsday attitude of many towards the year 2021, I urge you to not give up on it yet. This could be the year you actually find the motivation to lose the extra weight, manage the diabetes, get off the blood pressure medications, and see a healthier start to the rest of your life.
If you are interested in learning more about a plant-based diet and how it can help you be less susceptible to severe disease, I encourage you to book a one-on-one nutrition counseling session with me which can be done here.
As a way to show my commitment to seeing you excited about positive health changes in 2021, I'm offering limited New Years Pricing to make these changes more affordable to you.
Simonnet A, Chetboun M, Poissy J, et al. High prevalence of obesity in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) requiring invasive mechanical ventilation. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020.
Garbati MA, Fagbo SF, Fang VJ, et al. A Comparative Study of Clinical Presentation and Risk Factors for Adverse Outcome in Patients Hospitalised with Acute Respiratory Disease Due to MERS Coronavirus or Other Causes. PLoS ONE. 2016;11(11):e0165978.