This is the third part of a four part blog series that was taken from a research paper published by Dr. Mark Dedomenico, Director of The Hope Heart Research Institute. In this series Dr. Dedomenico discusses what makes up the immune system, what weakens your immune system, how to evaluate your immune system, and how to strengthen your immune system.
Inflammatory disorders in the body reduces the strength of a person’s immune system as immune cells are sent to fight the inflammation created by the disorders. The immune system keeps sending cells to fight the inflammation 24/7. It has been reported that over 90% of patient deaths from COVID-19 had inflammatory health problems like chronic hypertension, diabetes, anxiety, stress, depression, and especially excess body fat. The risk of severe symptoms (high temperature, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc.) in people who contract COVID-19 rises if the patient’s health is compromised by these inflammatory disorders.
I like to think of the immune system as an army of 100 groups of cells. If someone has asthma, they are minus 15 groups of immune cells (sent to fight the “inflammation” created by the asthma) and they are more likely to become sick if they contracted COVID-19 because of the weakened immune system.
Here are a few of the inflammatory disorders and how many groups of immune cells I estimate are sent to fight an inflammatory disorder:
- Asthma – 15
- Anxiety – 15
- Stress – 20
- Overweight – 20
- Depression – 30
- Hypertension – 30
- Obesity – 30
- Super Obesity – 40
- Morbid obesity – 60
- Diabetes – 40
- Chronic kidney disease – 50
- Heart disease – 60
- Lung disease – 60
If someone has two of these disorders or more, add the numbers together. If the numbers add to 60 plus, they could be on the way to becoming severely ill and risk hospitalization if they contracted COVID-19. All these disorders are inflammatory, and inflammation attracts immune cells reducing the number left to fight the virus.
The CDC reported the biggest drain on the immune system is excess inflammatory body fat. As we know, people are gaining more weight every decade. As fat cells enlarge, they release inflammatory chemicals that attract immune cells. The last NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) report demonstrates the significant weight change between 1999-2000 as compared to 2017-2018, one year before COVID-19.
Weight Gain Changes
1999 – 2000
|0-6||Overweight||No Change||No Change||—|
|20+||Men – Obesity||27.5%||43.0%||57%|
|20+||Men – Super Obesity||3.1%||6.9%||122%|
|20+||Women – Obesity||33.4%||41.9%||26%|
|20+||Women – Super Obesity||6.2%||11.5%||84%|
Super obesity includes morbid obesity, and both put the patient at very high risk for hospitalization, ventilation, and a high incidence of death no matter their age. The chart shows weight gain in 7-8 years is over 20%.
The CDC reported the average weight gain during the pandemic (February 2020-February 2021) was 29 pounds. This must be added to the chart above, which is only through 2018. I believe this 29-pound increase took the adult population from 40% obesity in 2019 to 50% in 2021. Overweight adults would increase to approximately 25%. Children also gained 29 pounds on average. I would estimate obese children grew from 27% to 35%. If we see another pandemic in the future, with people now carrying an extra 29 pounds of inflammatory fat, we will see a higher morbidity and mortality. Unfortunately, the future is here with mutations like the Delta virus.
In a survey conducted by The Hope Heart Research Institute of past 20/20 LifeStyles (a research program started in 1998 through the present for sustainable weight loss to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke), patients aged 60 -90 years old, who maintained their normal weight or had only gained 5-10 pounds, and who contracted COVID-19 (8 out of 247 patients surveyed, age 60+) had mild or moderate symptoms. Participants indicated they had strong immune systems because they only had experienced mild (6) to moderate (2) symptoms. One patient had extreme fatigue which we believe was due to myocarditis (viral infection of heart muscle) and cleared in four weeks. No one was hospitalized. These people were within 5-10 pounds of being normal weighted, without hypertension, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders. They were physically active, exercised 4-5 days per week with exercises that fit their genetic makeup and observed a diet that also fit their genes.
To continue reading How to Strengthen your Immune System click here. Other posts in this blog series include What is the Immune System and What Weakens the Immune System. We have also added an Immune System Frequently Asked Questions you may view by clicking here.
Dr. Mark Dedomenico, a former cardiovascular surgeon, played a key role in developing the procedure known as Coronary Bypass Surgery along with Dr. Lester Sauvage. Working together as two of the initial founders of the Hope Heart Institute, they also created some of the most significant developments in heart surgery. These included the creation of artificial heart valves and Bionit arterial grafts used to replace damaged or atherosclerotic arteries. Dr. Dedomenico’s work has also taken him into the areas of genetics, nutrition, exercise physiology, and behavior modification.
In 1992, Dr. Dedomenico began a new research project devoted to the treatment of early stage metabolic disease to prevent individuals from later needing cardiovascular surgery or medications to control hypertension, high cholesterol and diabetes. The research led to the creation of the 20/20 LifeStyles program. In 2002, 20/20 LifeStyles was selected as a credentialed provider of Microsoft’s weight-management program.
Dr. Dedomenico’s research and work with 20/20 LifeStyles remains ongoing and prevalent. He has formulated successful long term treatment methods of obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, binge eating disorders and arthritis. Additionally, Dr. Dedomenico is currently involved in a major osteoarthritis research project in conjunction with Colorado State University. He is devising new methods to control, prevent and stop the disorder.
In addition to his experience as a practicing surgeon, Dr. Dedomenico spent many years overseeing one of the country’s largest and most respected privately-held companies, Golden Grain Macaroni Company, the producer of many well-loved consumer products, including Rice-a-Roni, Mission and Golden Grain pasta, Ghirardelli chocolates, and Vernell candies.