People with type 2 diabetes are at higher risk for becoming critically ill or dying with coronavirus infection, experiencing a mortality rate more than seven-fold higher than non-diabetics, according to the CDC. The effect is not unique to COVID-19, as people with type 2 diabetes are known to be more susceptible to adverse outcomes with the flu, hepatitis B, herpes zoster, and other viruses. People with diabetes are also more prone to bacterial infections such as pneumococcal pneumonia and sepsis (blood-borne infection).
Why are people with diabetes more likely to suffer dire outcomes from infections? Several reasons, all involving an impaired immune system:
- Protective white blood cells (e.g., monocytes and macrophages) become dysfunctional under conditions of high blood sugar
- Diabetics have a higher level of chronic inflammation with higher levels of mediators of inflammation such as IL-1 beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha, phenomena also known to impair wound healing.
- Diabetics have an impaired cellular (“innate”) immune response
The shame in all this is that type 2 diabetes is SO easy to get rid of, to enjoy normal fasting blood glucoses of 90 mg/dl or less, to enjoy normal insulin resistance with low single-digit levels of blood insulin (e.g., <4 mIU/L), enjoy ideal hemoglobin A1c values of 5.0% or less (reflecting 3 months of blood glucose fluctuations).
How? Just as we do in the Wheat Belly and Undoctored lifestyles, we remove the foods that raise blood sugar and insulin (wheat, grains, sugar); address common modern nutrient deficiencies that contribute to insulin resistance (vitamin D, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, iodine); take steps to re-establish healthy bowel flora. This typically leads to weight loss from inflammatory visceral fat, which further compounds the benefits and reversal of insulin resistance.
The great majority of type 2 diabetics are able to become non-diabetic with these efforts. The occasional person who does everything right but continues to experience high blood sugar means that there was irreversible damage done to the beta cells of the pancreas (glucotoxicity–damage from high blood sugars; lipotoxicity–damage from high triglyceride levels; other forms of injury). The most that can be accomplished in this situation is to minimize blood sugars and need for medications to reduce blood sugar. But the majority of type 2 diabetics can kiss their diabetes goodbye.
By becoming a non-type 2 diabetic, all the excess risk, the impaired immune system, all revert back to normal. Should you get the flu or COVID-19, your mortality rate is reduced to that of other healthy people, i.e., far less.
Becoming a non-type 2 diabetic can be accomplished within weeks to months, depending on how much weight you have to lose. But the drop in blood sugar on this program is immediate, so quick that most people need to cut their insulin doses by 50% and/or stop drugs like glyburide, glipizide, and glimepiride even BEFORE they begin the program, as there should be zero tolerance for hypoglycemia as you begin to become less diabetic. (Ideally, you accomplish this with the assistance of a doctor with experience helping diabetics become non-diabetic, but good luck finding one.)