Velandy Manohar, MD
Distinguished Life Fellow- Am. Psychiatric Association
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, MD: Stay Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age.
5 Ways to Prevent Dementia, Says Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Sat, October 2, 2021, 8:15 AM
The key to treating dementia is prevention," says Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN's chief medical correspondent and a practicing neurosurgeon, in his recent book Stay Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age. Gupta notes that brain changes that result in dementia have been found to begin 20 to 30 years before a diagnosis, making prevention an urgent and worthy goal. "And it just so happens that the same things you can do to reduce your risk for the disease are what you can do to improve your quality of life as you live with the disease," he adds. These are five ways you can start preventing dementia now and live a better life today.
his is the most important thing you can do to keep your brain healthy, says Gupta. "Exercise, both aerobic and nonaerobic (strength training), is not only good for the body; it's even better for the brain," he writes in Keep Sharp. "The connection between physical fitness and brain fitness is clear, direct, and powerful." He recommends regular movement, whether that's taking the stairs instead of the elevator or strenuous exercise. If you exercise regularly, Gupta suggests mixing up your routine.
"Social interaction is one of the big predictors of neurogenesis," or creation of new brain cells, which prevents dementia, said Gupta in the South China Morning Post. "Social interaction is near the top of the list when it comes to making new brain cells. Connecting with others has been known to be important for a long time. But we now know that it leads to the release of certain hormones like oxytocin, which foster neurogenesis."
Get Quality Sleep
"There is a rinse cycle that happens in your brain when you sleep," said Gupta. "You are basically clearing out metabolic waste. That happens when you are awake, but the process is close to 60 percent more efficient when you are asleep. You're clearing out plaque and tangles, and all the things that lead to dementia. You're helping the brain run more smoothly."
How much sleep do you need? "Seven to nine hours, if you can do it," Gupta told Terry Gross on NPR's "Fresh Air." "If you're dreaming in the morning right before you wake up, that's a pretty good sign. That probably means that you've spent a fair amount of your evening, your night, consolidating memories and going through the rinse cycle.
In the book, Gupta says what's "good for the heart is good for the brain" and that "clean living can slash your risk of developing a serious mind-destroying disorder, including Alzheimer's disease, even if you carry genetic risk factors." He advocates a heart-healthy diet that includes plenty of omega-3 fatty acids from natural sources, small portions, little sugar, and plenty of water. Sanjay says he personally eats very little meat and less overall throughout the day—breakfast "like a king," lunch "like a prince" and dinner "like a pauper."
Try New Things
Doing new things is literally exercise for the brain. Gupta recommends reading a book that's outside of your usual interests; taking a class in cooking, art, or continuing education; joining a writing group; or learning a new language.
[My Response: There is great overlap between these concepts and what I have been teaching in the Health Promoting Education materials I have written and distributed to my patients and staff for over a decade. I have comments on Pages 2,3, 4, 5, 7 and 10-11 .VM]
One day while thinking about and discussing these [Health promoting] strategies I came to my senses and decided to use SENSS as a mnemonic and acronym for my core strategy to promote personal accountability to restore and maintain optimum health. Dr Gupta Pandemic Proofing concepts represented by acronym PROOF is very similar to the acronym SENSS that I use as mnemonic for my recommendations to restore health and sustain wellness.VM]
S: Social connections with people who provide warm wafting wind beneath your wings. [a: below]
E: Exercise: three types/ options: stretching, strengthening, walking running, swimming. Total time minimum 150 minutes a week: Different physical activity 'cocktails' have similar health benefits | MDLinx "Getting 30 minutes of physical activity per day, or 150 minutes per week, is what's currently recommended, but you still have the potential to undo all that good work if you sit too long.
A cocktail formula of 3 to 1 is best.
The researchers found that getting (3) three minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity or 12 minutes of light activity per hour of sitting was optimal for improving health and reducing the risk of early death.
Although the researchers found that replacing sedentary time with just two minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise is more efficient than replacing it with light physical activity—two minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise is equivalent to four to 12 minutes of light physical activity—But both have value.
Using this basic formula, the study found that multiple combinations of activities reduced the risk of early death by 30%:
N: Nutrition: Consider adopting the diet from My Plate.Gov plus the Yogurt with the six healthy bacteria. Diabetes remission diet also lowers blood pressure Published on: 1 June 2021. Our study shows that, in addition to possible remission from type 2 diabetes, there are other very important health benefits, as weight loss is a very effective treatment for hypertension and its associated serious health risks
The DiRECT trial was done entirely in primary care. The evidence shows that GPs can safely offer an evidence-based intensive weight management intervention, aiming for substantial weight loss and remission of type 2 diabetes. The study further highlights the links between diet, weight, type 2 diabetes and hypertension, and how long-term support to maintain weight loss is vital.”
https://www.cnn.com/2021/09/27/health/uncontrolled-high-blood-pressure-wellness/index.html Nearly half of all Americans live with high blood pressure, a key contributor to diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and serious complications from Covid-19, according to the American Heart Association. “But there is something people with stubbornly high blood pressure can do -- and it's more than just pop another pill. In what authors are calling the first study of its kind, people were able to reduce resistant high blood pressure with a combination of diet, exercise and reducing salt intake. The study published Monday in the AHA's journal Circulation. The DASH diet[Stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.] An award-winning eating plan, DASH has a simple premise: Eat more veggies, fruits and low-fat dairy foods; limit foods high in saturated fat; and limit your intake of sodium to 2,300 milligrams a day -- that's about 1 teaspoon of table salt.
The DASH meal plan includes four to six servings of vegetables and another four to six servings of fruit; three servings of whole-grain products; two to four servings of fat-free or low-fat products; and several servings each of lean meats and nuts, seeds, and legumes each day. THE SENSS approach also emphasizes Exercise and Nutrition. VM
S: Stress management: Deep breathing, Yoga, Meditation, Metta – Loving Kindness prayer, Tai Chi etc..
Please review Stress Resources PS #5 on Page 12.Please review also Immune System and Inflammation Resources PS #6 on Page 12
S: Self- Care/Self -Compassion can be experienced by adopting and practicing various Buddhist chants, and meditations from other faith traditions including Christianity e.g., Gregorian Chants as well as Hindu, Jain, Muslim and Sikh prayers, massage, healthy Sleep hygiene while eschewing smoking Tobacco, Alcohol, other drugs of abuse with the use of specific formulations of Cannabis- derived Alkaloids for medical reasons being an exception that I have come to accept. I leave it up to my readers to make their own informed decisions on this Drug. [b: below]
I have added one study as PS on the important matter of Social Connectedness and another on Self-Compassion.
We must bear in mind the profound effects of Social Determinants of Health SDoH and the grinding Long term effects of the Social Gradient on Longevity, Wellness and Health Outcomes. The Social Gradient demonstrated by Sir Michael Marmot in the UK and since then in many other locales, in social, vocational environments the pernicious effects of the crushing social gradient have been demonstrated.
The most devastating demonstration of the main components of the impact of the Social Gradient in the USA is on the Map especially when we advance the death rates from 1980 forwards. We can see the devastating story of widening gap between the counties with highest death rates along the lower Mississippi valley KY and WV and lower death rate counties in northern tier.
A generation and a half has been hollowed out the health status is getting worse in these communities in whole counties, states, and regions. The declining longevity in the USA will result in Mexico life expectancy catching and perhaps surpassing the USA in 2030.
In parts of Appalachia, more people are dying of heart disease now than were in 1980, despite rapid improvements in medical technology.
Poverty and its associated struggles, such as depression, stress, and poor nutrition, are also clearly playing a role.
There's no sign of the gap closing. In fact, it appears to be widening. Between 1980 and 2014, the gap between the highest and lowest life spans increased by about two years.
A pair of new studies suggest Americans are sicker than people in other rich countries, and in some states, progress on stemming the tide of basic diseases like diabetes has stalled or even reversed. The studies suggest so-called “despair deaths”—alcoholism, drugs, and suicide—are a big part of the problem, but so is obesity, poverty, and social isolation.
"Therefore, the poor recent and projected U.S. performance is at least partly due to high and inequitable mortality from chronic diseases and violence, and insufficient and inequitable health care."
“We might be seeing the drag that decades of stagnant wages, growing inequality, and the associated behavioral (e.g., smoking, diet, activity) and psychosocial (e.g., chronic stress, depression) factors have on eventual mortality,” said Michael Kramer, a professor of epidemiology at Emory University, via e-mail. Americans are hit harder than other rich countries are by these forces, he posits, both because of our skimpy preventive health care and because “the U.S. has higher income inequality and less comprehensive social safety net, so the ill-effects of poverty may take an undue toll.”
One paper published this month suggested that Americans would live four years longer if the U.S. had a safety net as generous as those of European countries.
Perceived social status is related to physical and mental health (Adler, Espel, Castellazzo, & Ickovics, 2000). Perceived social status is typically measured using objective measures of socioeconomic status (SES) such as income and education. The relationship between perceived social status and health has been called the social gradient, because for each increase in SES there is a corresponding increase in health (Adler, Boyce, Chesney, Cohen, Folkman, Kahm & Syme, 1994).
While this model is valid among the population of the United States generally, it is not valid among Hispanic immigrants in the United States, for whom lower objective SES is related to better health when compared to those living in the US (Vega, Kolody, Aguilar-Gaxiola, Alderete, Catalano & Caraveo-Anduaga, 1998; Wei, Valdez, Mitchell, Haffner, Stern & Hazuda, 1996). This reversed social gradient has been called the Hispanic Paradox because it represents a reverse to the typical social gradient found in Western societies (Scribner, 1996).”VM
The social gradient of health is accepted as a well-established relationship.
However, the reason why health disparities get larger as difference in SES increase is not entirely understood.”]
B. Keep sharp
In his new book, "Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age" (Simon & Schuster), neurosurgeon Sanjay Gupta, M.D., writes about how to keep the brain in shape as we age, to protect it from decline.
Read the excerpt below, and don't miss Dr. Jon LaPook's interview with Dr. Gupta on "CBS Sunday Morning" January 3!
When I was in medical school in the early 1990s, conventional wisdom was that brain cells, such as neurons, were incapable of regenerating. We were born with a fixed set and that was it; throughout life, we'd slowly drain the cache (and accelerate that killing off with bad habits like drinking too much alcohol and smoking marijuana – the truth about that later). It was the eternal optimist in me, but I never believed that our brain cells simply stopped growing and regenerating. After all, we continue to have novel thoughts, deep experiences, vivid memories, and new learning throughout our lives. It seemed to me that the brain wouldn't just wither away unless it was no longer being used. By the time I finished my neurosurgery training in 2000, there was plenty of evidence that we could nurture the birth of new brain cells (called neurogenesis) and even increase the size of our brains. It was a staggeringly optimistic change in how we view the master control system of our bodies. Indeed, every day of your life, you can make your brain better, faster, fitter, and, yes, sharper. I am convinced of that. (I'll get to the bad habits later; they don't necessarily kill brain cells, but when they are abused, they can alter the brain, especially its memory powers.)
Let me say at the outset: I am certainly a fan of excellent education, but this is not what "Keep Sharp" is all about. This book is less about improving intelligence or IQ and more about both propagating new brain cells and making the ones you have work more efficiently. This isn't so much about remembering a list of items, performing well on exams, or executing tasks adeptly (though all of those goals will be more achievable with a better brain). In "Keep Sharp," you will learn to build a brain that connects patterns others might miss and helps you better navigate life. You will develop a brain able to toggle back and forth between short-term and long-term views of the world and, perhaps most important, a brain highly resilient in the face of life experiences that might be disabling to someone else.
From "Keep Sharp" by Sanjay Gupta, M.D. Copyright © 2021 by Sanjay Gupta, M.D. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
CNN expert Gupta's new book offers pandemic lessons for today — and the future
Steve Dorfman Published 7:01 AM Oct 05 21
Palm Beach Post
When it comes to trusted and respected media voices about the pandemic, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at or near the top of most people’s lists.
When it comes to trusted and respected media voices about the pandemic, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is at or near the top of most people’s lists.
Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent (and a neurosurgeon), has written a new book out today: "World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One."
Just as he does when discussing the pandemic on air, Gupta adopts a sober and realistic — but never pessimistic — view of where we are in the pandemic.
What we know.
What we don’t know.
What we’re learning daily.
And perhaps most importantly, some of the actionable steps we can all take, both at the micro and macro levels, to make us more resilient now and in the future.
Gupta believes society needs to prepare for a new era in which pandemics will become more frequent and perhaps even more deadly.
He argues that the combination of factors — climate change, deforestation, habitat loss, human migration, rapid mass transit and aggressive conversion of wildland for economic development, among others — significantly increases the likelihood of mass outbreaks of new and more deadly infectious disease.
In speaking with numerous experts worldwide, however, he offers an optimistic view of how things can be improved — provided that solutions are implemented with wisdom and compassion.
Gupta spent hundreds of hours speaking with experts and he came away believing that, as audacious as it may sound — especially in light of where we are today — that it is possible for a society to become essentially “pandemic-proof.”
But to do so will require comprehensive planning as well as spending as much (or more) money as we do on things like national security and cyber security.
Using the acronym PROOF, he explains what we need to do both individually and collectively to be better prepared:
P: Plan ahead. We should never be caught off guard again.
R: Rethink and rewire risk in your brain. Evaluate uncertainty and deal with unseen threats.
O: Optimize health. Prime the body for pandemic proofing.
O: Organize family. Learn how to live everyday life anew — albeit in what will almost certainly be a new normal.
F: Fight for the future of us. Your health depends on everyone else’s around the world.
“My Response; There is great overlap between these concepts and what I have been teaching in the Health Promoting Education materials I have written and distributed to my patients and staff for over a decade.VM]
[ARC Health promotion Materials Please see page 2,3,4,5 above and page 10-11 below]
Other pertinent topics Gupta explores include:
What we know about long-haul COVID
No matter how COVID-19 evolves, there will still likely be millions of folks managing COVID-related symptoms long-term. Gupta explores what we currently know about the disease’s ability to lie dormant yet still inflict damage and how and why symptoms can persist long after the acute phase of illness has seemingly passed.
Vaccine myths and the history of vaccine skepticism
Just as he’s done on TV since the vaccines became available, Gupta debunks the most commonplace vaccine myths — including those related infertility and pregnancy.
He also takes a deep dive into the long history of skepticism surrounding vaccines and masking.
Indeed, large segments of the population refused proven vaccines when they were initially introduced for debilitating diseases such as smallpox and polio.
An outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere
Gupta believes that the greatest impact of COVID may be not on those whom the virus directly infects but on those shattered by the collapse of economies and health and education systems. For instance, the remote regions of Africa, Asia, South America, and India may seem distant to people in the U.S., but what happens there and in other faraway lands are all part of our global health security.
Gupta notes that in an ideal scenario, the most vulnerable to a disease would be vaccinated first, no matter where they live. Of course, that’s not how the COVID-19 vaccination rollouts have occurred. Instead, the world’s richest industrialized countries have vaccinated their own populations first while there are still smaller, poorer, still-developing countries whose populations haven’t received any vaccines at all.
Why some countries have fared better than others
After analyzing nearly two years’ worth of data, Gupta writes that there is a notable difference between how wealthy and poor nations have responded to the pandemic — but in a nearly inverse way that one would expect.
While infectious disease outbreaks typically crush poorer countries, at the start of the pandemic and prior to vaccines being widely available, COVID-19 disproportionately affected many of the world’s wealthiest nations.
Conversely, many poorer nations, which did not have the resources or research infrastructure benefit needed to develop therapeutics or vaccines implemented the most basic public health practices — i.e., testing, contact tracing, isolation, wearing masks at all times and thus had significantly lower-case rates than those in the “developed” countries did.
Theories about the origins of the novel coronavirus
Gupta also guides readers through competing ideas about how and where the virus originated.
Gupta recounts the conversations he’s had with experts about the various theories and allows readers to draw their own conclusions.
LEMON: We're on the road to recovery in our fight against COVID. Cases are down almost 35 percent from a month ago, hospitalizations down around 30 percent for the month, and deaths down almost 10 percent from a week ago.
So I'm going to discuss now with CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also the author of the new book, "World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One." Dr. Gupta, thank you so much.
Listen. I hope I'm not ahead of myself --
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: -- when I said we're on the road to recovery. So, it was a brutal summer, as we know. Some parts of the country on the COVID front. But now, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are all trending down. Is the end of this pandemic in sight or -- I don't know? What about the upcoming holidays?
GUPTA: I think it could be in sight. And, you know, I've been very cautious. I think we've got to be humble here, Don. We've got look at the positive trend lines and read into them. What I've been doing throughout this pandemic is trying to look at what's happening here, what's happening around the world, what's even happened historically.
And you're right. I mean, people say hey, weather is going to get cooler and dryer and that's when these respiratory viruses like to spread. To that point, let me show you 2009 what happened, Don. What you see at that point is that there is a surge, that big surge, that second peak is right now, that's October of 2009, and then the numbers go down as we're seeing it happen now, and they stay down. That's what happened at this point.
If you go back even further, more than 100 years to the 1918-1919 flu pandemic, again, the biggest surge of the entire pandemic, there were really three or four different waves there, but the biggest one was again right about now, and then it came down, and then you get a little surge again going into the spring the following year.
But for the most part, this was the worst of it in both those pandemics previously. Part of it, I think, Don, you got people vaccinated, and part of it also is because it's such a contagious virus that people have -- a lot of people have been exposed to this and developed some natural immunity.
We don't know how long that natural immunity last and that's going to be a big question mark in terms of future surges. But right now, as you point out, all trend lines look pretty favorable.
LEMON: Sanjay is out with a new book. I told you it was coming. It's called "World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One." I'll let you in on a little secret. It's supposed to come out tomorrow, but I found a book seller who put it out early against Sanjay's wishes. But what are you going to do? I won't say what it was. But what was the inspiration?
GUPTA: You know, Don, it's funny. Doing television, I think that the amount of information and knowledge that I'm sort of trying to absorb even to do a few minutes with you every night is probably twentyfold to one. I've taken 20 times more information.
I got to show you all these papers. I've just been taking these notes and doing all these things, and I felt like there were so many lessons that I had learned. I talked to scientists all over the world. And the thing that kept coming up over and over again is that it is possible to essentially make yourself pandemic-proof.
Emerging pathogens, they're going to keep happening, these emerging viruses. But the idea they turn into a pandemic, it's very much within our control. We kind of knew that. But some of the ways we do are surprising, even when it comes to our own individual health. I mean, 80 percent of your immunity -- if I say, Don, you need to improve your immunity. What does that even mean? How would you do it?
Eighty percent of your immunity is actually in your gut. It's also a big source of your serotonin, by the way, your mood, very related to your gut. How do you transform your body into one that can better fight this virus or at least not get so sick from it?
[23:44:56] GUPTA: Also, Don, let me just show you, in the United states, we know that citizens here are much more likely to have the risk factors that set them up for severe disease, whether it be obesity, whether it be diabetes, whether it be chronic kidney disease, all these types of things.
They are the diseases of affluence. They happen in wealthy countries. Wealthy countries got hit hard, Don, by this pandemic. Usually, you think of a new infection, a new outbreak you think poorly developed countries are going to be hit harder. Not the case here. It was almost the reverse. Why? Part of it is what you see on the screen there.
So the idea that we could come better prepared even for the next few months, but also for the next several years and decades, I think, is very much within our power. And I wanted to have a real prescription on how to get there.[He has proposed measures represented by this Acronym PROOF, Please see page 6 and 7. My comments on the recommendations and the Acronym Proof are on pages 2,3,4]
LEMON: Yeah. Listen. There are a lot of factors like we need to take care of our obesity problem in this country, which is a contributing factor. I'm sure you will agree. I want to ask you this, though, Sanjay, because you're talking about your gut, when you're talking about your gut. You also specifically touch on the importance of -- is this what it is called microbiome? Is that what you're talking about?
GUPTA: The microbiome, yeah. The microbiome. So that is this sort of universe of organisms that live inside our gut and are very responsible for our immunity and for frankly many functions. They call it the second brain in the body.
[My response- I concur with this observation
“In addition, it is important to consider the fact that Adipocytes and the Bowel Biota are packed with more genes than the ones packed into our 23 pairs of Chromosomes we inherit form our parents which greatly magnifies its impact on our health and wellbeing. From birth humans, must contend with and find ways of coexisting with micro-organisms all over the body especially with the Gut microbiota. There are far more Gut Micro-organisms than there are cells in the Human Body- which number 13 trillion.”
In the light of this, it is reasonable to questions whether the Genes of the Microbiome in the Gut might play a greater role in Health than do Human genes. Recent evidence suggests that the Microbiome may affect the probability of many Major Diseases including Obesity and Diabetes – A.L. Komaroff- JAMA 24/31, 2017, Vol 317 #4.
For most people, what they consume - eat, drink, inhale, chew affects their Emotions, Behavioral patterns and Thinking faculties in real time and over longer spans of their lives.” ARC- Health Promoting Educational Material, Velandy Manohar, MD- Health Promotion - Educational Materials (velandymanoharmd.com).]Please review pages 2,3,4, and page 7
And I just -- I have always known about this. I wasn't taught in medical school, but I learned it on my own over the last decade or so. And it's very interesting, again, going to this idea that what you -- I'm going exaggerate a little bit. But what you had for breakfast this morning could influence how much you be affected by the disease tonight because of your microbiome.
It is that specific. And there are ways to really put yourself in the best possible position not only to help diminish some of those diseases you just saw on the screen, but to make it less likely you're going get sick of COVID if you get it or a future pathogen.
That part is really striking. Again, there are countries around the world, just to show you, South Korea versus the United States, I don't know if we have this, I always use this example because the first patients were diagnosed –[on the same day]
LEMON: It is up on our screen now. [The Blue Line representing S. Korea id straight line slightly off the X Axis from March 2021, representing little variation in the 7-day averages of the new cases of Covid-19. VM compared to the red line which has huge amplitude of change in the incidence of Covid -19 across the length of the Graph from March 21 to date. VM]
GUPTA: -- on the same day. Don, look at that. Blue is South Korea. Red is us. I mean, they're 1/6 the size of us, but how do you explain that? We're all human beings. What did they do so different that we have 43 million confirmed cases in the United States, and they had 300,000? [If they experienced the same level per capita of incidence of Covid-19 as we did in the USA, they would have been reporting a total of 7.16 million confirmed cases. Instead, they recorded 300,000 confirmed cases which is 24% of the per capita incidence if they managed the Covid-19 Pandemic as inefficiently and responded in as tardy and labyrinthine Byzantine manner with respect coordinating Private resources, and Govt agencies at Local, State and Federal levels. One clear example of a colossal failure from Public Health point of view is the development, deployment of reliable tests and implementation of Widespread Testing methodology and protocols which greatly delayed the access to accurate and reliable data on testing all across the Nation. The one important place where private enterprise entities and the Govt collaborated we were able to produce and bring to market in one year a record time safe and very effective Anti-Covid vaccines. VM]
There is something there. There are real lessons and they're going to be important because, again, there will be more emerging pathogens. These viruses keep jumping into humans. They don't have to turn into pandemics. We can be the blue line next time around. And that's why I really wanted to write the book.
LEMON: Well, I can't wait to read it. I had the opportunity to get it. I didn't. There it is on the screen. I said hey, this book doesn't come out until next week. But anyway --
GUPTA: Thought it was bootleg.
LEMON: Yeah, I thought it was a bootleg, so I didn't buy it. But anyway --
GUPTA: I'll send it to you.
LEMON: Don't worry about it. I'm going to buy it. "World War C: Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One." I'm going to buy it, Sanjay. You're in the business of selling books. When I did my book, everyone wanted the book. I'm like, buy it. I'll sign it but --
GUPTA: I bought yours.
LEMON: Thank you, Sanjay. Best of luck. We appreciate it.
GUPTA: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: And we'll be right back.
"Pandemic proofing your life is not what you think - CNN"
Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Pandemic proofing your life is not what you think
World War C - Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One
On GPS Host Mr. Fareed Zakaria: What Sanjay Gupta learned from the pandemic 06:20
CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a practicing neurosurgeon and the author of the new book "World War C: Lessons from the Covid-19 Pandemic and How to Prepare for the Next One."
(CNN) I have bad news for you: We're stuck with this novel coronavirus in our environment perhaps indefinitely. And there might be another, more deadly and contagious pathogen right behind it that's poised to dart around the world and stir yet another pandemic.
But here's the good news: Pandemic proofing your life is easier than you think, and it's not about building a bunker or megadosing on supplements and waiting white-knuckled for the next booster shot. A remarkable suit of armor is already within you.
In the midst of a global pandemic, we've all changed. I joke that you've either become a chunk, monk, hunk or drunk. But seriously, what surprised me in my research into how we can prevent serious illness and death -- and prepare for the next globetrotting scourge -- is the key role diets play in our immune system and response to any infection, not just Covid. [Please review my comments on pages 2,3,4,7 and 10-11 above because there is considerable correspondence between my recommendations for achieving and sustaining a positive state of mind, restoring health, and experiencing wellbeing.
As we all know, Covid has shined a big light on the difference between people who contract the virus with underlying conditions already and those who are otherwise healthy. But the conversation often unfairly revolves around obesity, which has the unfortunate result of objectifying and stigmatizing people. The recent uproar over comments made by the CEO of the salad chain Sweetgreen is a testament to how divisive this conversation can become. More importantly, it does a disservice to it because the connection between obesity and Covid mortality is complicated.
To be clear, suggesting that stamping out obesity will somehow be easier than mass vaccination, which the Sweetgreen CEO seemed to do, is patently false. But a deeper dive into nearly two years' worth of data tells an important story that does not need to focus on weight or body size; and this one that doesn't get enough attention.
More than a third of Americans have what's called metabolic syndrome, and that number increases to nearly half of those age 60 and over. That's a lot of vulnerable hosts for a stealthy pathogen[such as Covid -19]. You don't even have to be a single pound overweight to have Metabolic Syndrome, which refers to a cluster of common conditions that increase the risk of Heart Disease, Stroke, [Type II ] Diabetes,[Obstructive] Sleep apnea, Liver and Kidney disease, Cancer, Alzheimer's, and Dying from an Infection. In addition to excess body mass, these conditions include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol levels, and high blood sugar -- the invisible signs of an unhealthy body. [Waist- Hip Ratio and BMI can be markers for health hazards.VM]. And if you can check these three boxes[ HBP, LIPID Levels and Fasting Blood Sugar] regardless of weight, you qualify as having the [Metabolic ] Syndrome, which is easily stoked and perpetuated by diet. Many medical experts say that Metabolic Syndrome may be the most common and serious condition you've never heard of, and yet it's playing mightily into people's outcomes from Covid.
So, how does your diet adversely affect immune function? Some of it is direct. Food can spark or, conversely, subdue levels of Inflammation.[Which is at core fo the Disorders listed in the previous paragraph. VM] Our daily sustenance also constantly serves and regulates your intestinal microbiome -- the gut's internal "friendly" germ factory that plays mightily into immunity.
Studies in the past year alone have highlighted the significance of the microbiome in people's prognosis with Covid. Associations found between gut microbiota composition (that is, strains and volume of species) and levels of Inflammatory Markers in patients with Covid suggest that the Gut Microbiome is involved in determining the magnitude of the Infection. In other words, a significant predictor of just how ill you are likely to become is the status of your gut microbiome at the time you are infected. And, there is little question that metabolic dysfunction is associated with an imbalanced Gut Flora.
That also seems to be true for what happens to people after Covid-19 has cleared the body.
The health of the Gut's biome could be a major cause of long-hauler or post-Covid symptoms -- brain fog, fatigue, and other persistent symptoms that remain after the initial infection runs its course. All of this means one of the easiest, most effective hacks to boost your immunity and protect yourself against disease in general is to eat healthier to keep 1. weight in check, 2. nurture your microbiome, and 3. support a humming metabolism.
No, salads won't replace vaccines or masks, but they are a terrific complement to all the other preventive measures we can take to stay out of harm's way. Pretty painless for a significant payoff. [I have mentioned the diet components- Protein source, Whole grain , fruits, and Vegetables all 25% of the plate and a cup of yogurt containing beneficial bacteria in my responses in pages 2,3 and 4.VM]
I know that deep down, you already understand that eating muffins or doughnuts with a mochaccino every morning for breakfast probably isn't going to get you where you really need to go. Diets may seem confusing, but food isn't. The key to remaking your metabolism involves changing how you think about food in the first place. Food is at the center of a grand intersection: it can hurt, and it can heal. For most of my life, I simply thought of food as fuel, just calories for energy, made up of micronutrients and macronutrients ("building blocks"). Over the past decade, though, I have come to understand and appreciate food as a tool for epigenetic expression, or how my diet and genome interact. Because food is the one piece of information we all have to give our body[Send one clear message] every day, so, we have to be sure we send the right information that works with it and supports healthy pathways -- not harmful or self-destructive ones.
It should come as no surprise that the typical Western diet -- high in salt, sugar, calories, and saturated fats -- is not friendly to our physiology. As the research concludes, a plant-based diet that is rich in a variety of fresh whole fruits and vegetables, particularly berries and green leafy vegetables, is associated with better health. I know you have heard this countless times, and you may be numb to it. I am too.
But there are a few simple statistics I often share with my patients to make the point. For instance, if you increase your fruit intake by just one serving a day, this can reduce your risk of dying from a cardiovascular event by 8%, the equivalent of 60,000 fewer deaths annually in the United States and 1.6 million fewer deaths globally. There are few medications that offer that much impact so easily. And, now you can be sure that a regular handful of berries or a juicy apple can also reduce your risk of experiencing a severe illness from an infection like Covid and its future siblings.
I realize that changing your diet in an effort to optimize your health will take some time -- and it should. I kept a food journal a few years ago to figure out new foods I could add to my diet to diversify my microbiome. I learned that fermented foods like pickles are my secret weapon. I now regularly snack on them to boost my productivity and energy. Find something similar for you.
Don't start by trying to break a bad habit and deprive yourself of the foods you love even though they don't wear health halos; instead, simply begin by introducing a good new habit like choosing more nutrient-dense, minimally processed foods with less refined sugars and flours. This will automatically move you away from ultra-processed food full of preservatives and additives that carpet bomb the good bacteria in your gut, while allowing harmful bacteria to thrive. Find a new food, something different, and make it part of your routine today. (And you'll also likely have an easier time heading up the stairs, waking up with more energy, and just feeling better tomorrow.)
For too long, we have been lulled into the false belief that wealth can buy health. It is why we wait for the vaccine instead of more fully adopting simple strategies to best protect ourselves every day. In the wake of this pandemic, we will need to analyze how we nourish ourselves at a deeper level than we have ever done in the past. Think about it. The food you eat today can lay the groundwork for pandemic proofing your body in the future.
Velandy Manohar, MD.,
Distinguished Life Fellow – Am. Psychiatric Association.