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COVID-19 outbreak: moving from guidance to evidence

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by Dr. Elissa Naim

As the pandemic is still taking its part in the world, researchers are putting all their efforts to unveil the impact of the virus on people’s health and socioeconomic status thus searching for the best practices and interventions to be implemented.


Public health recommendations and governmental measures during the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in numerous restrictions on daily living including social distancing, isolation and home confinement. While these measures are imperative to abate the spreading of COVID-19, the impact of these restrictions on health behaviours and lifestyles at home is being presented in some recent international publications.

 

In some countries, food consumption and meal patterns were unhealthy during confinement. People changed their eating behaviours, with increased consumption of unhealthy food, eating out of control, more snacking between meals and an overall higher number of main meals. An increment in home made sweets, bread and pizza consumption was presented. Some studies have shown that these tendencies were more frequent in overweight and obese individuals. Moreover, fruit and vegetables consumption was different according to countries. Despite the obvious tendency of turning to planting and growing, the majority attributed the decrease of fruit and vegetables consumption to difficulties of the agricultural supply chain, lower availability and higher price of such items. Some people admitted the fact that fruit and vegetables did not appeal to them while in lockdown. Indeed, during the lockdown, the sense of hunger and satiety changed: some have less appetite, while others increased their appetite. Accordingly, the increased sense of hunger and the consequent change in eating habits could justify the perception of weight gain observed. One study have shown that overweight, obese, and late adults tended to gain weight more frequently, whereas those with underweight tended to lose it further which might be due to the fact of skipping meals. Hence, increased BMI was seen to be associated with less frequent consumption of vegetables, fruits, and legumes during quarantine, and higher adherence to meat, dairy and fast-foods.

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Furthermore, smoking and alcohol consumption were also studied. Hence, alcohol binge drinking was seen to be decreased. This shift simply reflects the mere substitution of “social drinking”, in bars and restaurants with in-house use. Interestingly, the self-reported decrease in alcohol use was mirrored by an increase in tea, coffee, and herbal tea consumption. In addition, in some countries smokers experienced a rise in smoking frequency during the quarantine and others have decrease or quit smoking; which could be explained by the fear induced in smokers of the increased risk of respiratory distress and mortality from COVID-19.

 

Moreover, it seems that the home confinement had an effect on all physical activity intensity levels. Additionally, daily sitting time increased in hours for more E-activities. This might be due to the increased time that people were required to stay within their quarantine location. One study stated that in spite of an increased offering of PA guidance and classes available on social media, it has not been possible for individuals to adequately maintain their normal PA patterns. Furthermore, it was shown that those who did not use to play sports before the lockdown did not use this as an opportunity to start. However, among those who already took part in sports, training frequency at home has increased.

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In fact, the public health strategies that focused on social distancing have led to an increase in loneliness and social isolation, which play a significant role in lifestyle behaviors. Some studies represented cases of people reporting increased anxiety and depression episodes. Thus resulting in more difficultly in achieving weight loss goals, less exercise time and intensity, increased stockpiling of food and stress eating. Noting that people with obesity already have a 25% increased risk of developing mood and anxiety disorders. Some people found that healthy eating patterns to be more challenging as they are baking more and stress eating more than usual. This might be due to the lower emotional mood or boredom. Indeed, some authors described that eating highly palatable foods appeared to decrease stress levels. Thus people are switching to chose comfort food, notably chocolate, ice-cream, desserts and salty snacks. Due to recent economic challenges, patients may be more likely to select cheaper foods, which are often energy dense and nutrient poor.Therefore, even though more patients are cooking at home, the type of foods that are being stockpiled are likely to be processed foods due to their longer shelf life. These are associated with greater intake of fat, carbohydrate and calories, which facilitate greater weight gain and being more exposed to chronic diseases.

 

Considering that COVID-19 has so far no effective preventive and pharmacological therapies available, healthy eating habits and lifestyle are crucial to reduce susceptibility to long-term complications. So try to take benefit from the online fitness and cooking apps and webinars thus staying aware, motivated and healthy.

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A Healthy Gut for a Healthy You!

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by Dr. Elissa Naim

As many countries urge populations to stay at home, many of us are paying more attention to our diets and how the food we eat can support our health.


What about revitalising everything from your weight to mental wellbeing? It is possible through maintaining a healthy gut!

Have you ever heard about probiotics, prebiotics, fermented foods? Let’s discover the central role that gut bacteria play in our overall health and what changes to your diet could genuinely boost your gut health.

The human body harbors >100 trillion organisms; these are mostly bacteria, but also include archaea, viruses, parasites, and fungi, which together make up the microbiota, gut microbiom or gut flora.

The interest in microbiota goes beyond its relation with the digestive system. Studies have linked gut bacteria to changes in mood, mental health, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular health. Hence, gut health refers to the balance of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract, once imbalanced (dysbiosis), this may cause autoimmunity, inflammation, metabolic and GI-tract disorders, cancer, anxiety and depression.

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Indeed, gut microbiota helps our body to produce nutrients and essential substances that our cells cannot. Hence, it works on degradation of nondigestible polysaccharides, synthesis of vitamins, strengthening and protecting the host from pathogens by maintaining healthy gut barrier integrity, and the development of innate and adaptive immunity. So feeding our microbes with a diverse diet and creating a comfortable environment for them seem to be vital.

Thus, you have to introduce foods with Probiotic (meaning they contain living bacteria) such as yoghurts and ayran. Prebiotics, just one letter different, are a source of food for probiotic bacteria to live off and multiply such as nondigestible carbohydrates: inulin or galactooligosaccharides. Prebiotic-rich foods are: asparagus, bananas, chicory, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, whole grains. Studies are also pointing to possible benefits from Fermented foods which have been made traditionally such as kishk, shanklich, labneh, kefir, tempeh, kombucha and fermented vegetables: kimchi, miso, sauerkraut. They are a natural source of probiotics and act as"psychobiotics", having a positive mental health effect (lower level of cortisol, a stress marker) and resulting in a more diverse microbiome.

In addition, try to stay away from low carb diets and low fiber diets, specifically fad diets which call for less dietary diversity and therefore less quantity and quality of your microbiome. Conversely, diets high in Fiber (whole grain cereals, fruits, vegetables and legumes) shift nutrient uptake to the colon, which can drive lower fat in the body and boost your ‘metabolism’. Interestingly, microbiome composition can affect weight loss. Even when you and your friend eat the same amount, you might take up and use different amounts of calories from the same food, partly due to differences between your gut microbiomes.

However, eating a lot of sugar or artificial sweeteners (i.e. aspartame) may cause an imbalance of gut microbes increasing the number of some bacterial strains that are linked with metabolic disease. This means that artificial sweeteners may increase blood sugar despite not actually being a sugar, partially due to their effects on gut flora.

Try to avoid smoking and taking antibiotics unnecessarily that also damage the gut microbiota and immunity.

Worth noting that a variety of stressors can negatively affect gut health, including psychological stress, environmental stress, extreme heat, cold, noise, sleep deprivation and disruption of the circadian rhythm. Thus, try to get enough good-quality of sleep, to do meditation, deep breathing exercises, and progressive muscle relaxation and exercice regulary since studies have found that athletes had a larger variety of gut flora than nonathletes.

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Remember, microbiome diversity is probably not achievable by swallowing a whole range of supplements. Eating a complex diet including all macronutrients, being active and sleeping well seem to be the long-lasting pill by promoting the abundance of healthier bacteria.

  • References 

    https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/
    https://www.bbc.com/
    https://www.independent.co.uk/
    harvard.edu
    NUTRITION LIVE ONLINE WEBINAR 2020
    Nature.com/articles/https://www.nature.com/articles/s41575-018-0061-2

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Healthy lifestyle during the lockdown

Elissa Naim

By Dr. Elissa Naim

It is understandable that many people will feel anxious or upset about the COVID-19 outbreak and the impact that it has on their lives. This is a stressful time and looking after your mental as well as your physical health is important. A healthy diet is difficult to maintain and many people are snacking more. Nutritionists explain this due to feeling bored, stressed and anxious. Putting on weight is dangerous as obesity is a COVID-19 risk factor. A rise in obesity also poses a long-term threat since it’s related to chronic diseases like type II diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension etc.

Maintaining a healthy diet plays a crucial role in determining how well people recover from coronavirus. But what exactly does a healthy diet comprise of, and how can one ensure he is eating as well as he is stuck inside his home all the time?

People are facing emotional eating which occurs when food is used to soothe or suppress negative emotions such as isolation, anger, boredom, or stress. Often comfort or emotional eating ignore feelings of physical hunger that come from an empty stomach. Hence, the most common foods craved are usually ultra-processed, such as biscuits, crisps, chocolate, and ice cream. These foods are scientifically engineered to quickly target the pleasure receptors in our brains. To overcome this feeling, try keeping healthy and nutritious snacks nearby to ensure you don’t head straight to the biscuit and chocolate tin or chips at the slightest hunger pang. Go for healthy combination such as yoghurt and berries, fresh fruits and raw nuts, dried fruits and raw nuts, hummus and carrots, healthy popcorn.

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Remember! Don’t push yourself too hard, have your cheat snack or meal every once in a while. Not only will this boost your mood and keep your spirits high, but it will prevent you from binging on sweet treats you might’ve forbidden yourself from eating. Now is certainly not the time for restrictions.

In addition, try planning out a few meals so you know what you need and don’t have to face the ‘what’s for lunch or dinner’ dilemma every day. ”Planning meals in advance could also ensure you use up all of the ingredients you have before buying more, thus preventing waste. Use up your fresh ingredients first.

Three nutrients that you should definitely include which help to support your immune system are: vitamin A (found in eggs, sweet potato and spinach), vitamin C (found in berries, kiwi, tomatoes & peppers) and zinc (found in meat, shellfish, raw nuts, dairy and bread). Thus, strengthening your immune system through a proper diet by increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables, with at least five servings a day. They contain vitamins mentioned above in addition to antioxidants, which will help you fight infections. Eat legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans) at least three times a week, they keep for a long time, are inexpensive and will help you stay healthy, because they are high in proteins and iron. Don’t forget to add garlic, onions and spices such as ginger and tumeric which are rich in antioxidants that scavenge on free radicals that can weaken the immune system. Include Omega-3 which can be found in seafood and raw nuts. Canned oily fish in particular is a really handy item to have in your cupboard while on lockdown. It is relatively cheap and has a long shelf life, yet it is rich in omega-3, thus improving mental wellbeing. In normal circumstances, sunshine, not food, is where most of your vitamin D comes from. Indeed, try to be exposed to sun through your open window, balcony or try to do a walk around the house. Vitamin D is important for bone health and support the immune system and mental health. Hence, vitamin D works with calcium and phosphorus for healthy bones, muscles and teeth. You can also eat plenty of vitamin D food sources, including: oily fish such as salmon, egg yolk, meat and milk, some breakfast cereals and yoghurts.

Moreover, exercise regularly 30 min a day the way it suits you either walking outside to benefit from the good weather or doing youtube workout or weight training at home. Worth mentioning that workout helps you increase your happiness hormones such as endorphine. Furthermore, there are particular foods that can help boost the levels of the happy hormone serotonin, such as fish, nuts, dark green vegetables, seeds, oats, yogurt, eggs and poultry.

Sugar, processed meat, smoking and alcohol should be reduced since they tend to be inflammatory so they busy the immune system, leaving other problems in your body unaddressed. Keep any caffeinated drinks to a minimum and try not to drink them from mid-afternoon so they don’t affect your sleep. Drinking an adequate amount of water (at least 2L/day) is essential in order to feel and function at your best and to stay hydrated and support your immune system.

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Health and diet are proving particularly difficult to manage as our regular regimes are disrupted and millions of us are working from home with constant access to our kitchens and the treats within. Yet, a BALANCED diet is the key! We don't recommend any one food over another, but instead encourage eating a variety of foods to maintain a healthy diet in addition to daily workout and keep being hydrated.

 

References
http://www.fao.org/
https://www.bda.uk.com/
https://www.independent.co.uk/

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An Insight into CoronaVirus and Food

Elissa Naim

Dr. Elissa Naim

EN_3_1

The novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is a respiratory illness that can spread from person to person. Coronaviruses can survive on surfaces for several days, depending on the type of material, temperature and humidity. The viruses can be destroyed by heat (e.g. cooking), common detergents and sanitisers. Here comes the real concern about Food supply chains, Deliveries, Food preps ….


How safe is it to order delivery, takeout, to shop at the grocery or even to prepare food at home as the virus spreads?


To begin, unlike foodborne gastrointestinal viruses like norovirus and hepatitis A that often make people ill through contaminated food, experiences from previous outbreaks of related coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) show that transmission through food consumption did not occur. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) echoed that it's not aware of any reports suggesting Covid-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging. Even if you did eat food with the virus, there are not many receptors in the digestive track for the virus to cling to, so swallowing the virus would not likely lead to contracting the illness.
Starting from the agricultural production to food processing, distribution, retail and food service, all have critical infrastructure workers and need to follow food safety protocols of personal hygiene.

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Supermarkets can provide an "ideal setting" for virus transfer. Many people are touching and replacing items, checkout belts, cash cards, car park ticket machine buttons, ATM payment buttons, paper receipts etc. in addition of being in the proximity of other people. Thus, bring your face mask, gloves, disinfecting wipes or hand sanitizer with you, along with those planet-friendly reusable grocery bags. It’s preferable to do your shopping alone, in the afterrnoon not in peak times. Once at home, try to get rid of the packaging. For other types of packaging, such as pasta, try to put the food in other closed boxes. For the packaging of products which cannot be unpacked and which go to the refrigerator (milk, yoghurts, etc.), it is advisable to clean with desinfecting wipes before putting them away. For boxes and other preserves you can either store them for 72 hours before using them or wipe them. Wash your hands well before and after unpacking your packages.
For vegetables, wash and rub them with water or soak them with white vinegar or salt.

Food Processing and Deliveries Any real risk of contamination, would come indirectly from the workers handing out the food if they coughed or sneezed directly on the food or packaging, rather than if they just touched it. Yet, likely the food business is following employee health policies and local health department recommendations. As for the employee of delivery who is paying and getting money back is in question, so such as customers asking for food to be left on a porch or at a doorstep, and using touch-free and cashless transactions is advisable. Afterwards, the risk of packaging contamination can be minimised by emptying the contents into a clean dish, disposing of the packaging into a refuse bag and washing your hands thoroughly before you eat. It might be better in the current circumstances to order hot, freshly cooked food, rather than cold or raw items. With a pizza for example, you could even pop it into the microwave for a couple of minutes.

At Home Before preparing or eating food, it's important to wash your hands with clean water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds. You should also wash your hands after being out in public, touching your face, coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose, or using the bathroom. Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol is also a second option. Other practices, as regular cleaning and sanitising of frequently touched surfaces such as door handles, light switches, work benches, equipment etc. also serve as protection. Furthermore, promptly refrigerating foods, keeping raw and cooked foods separate, and heating food to the appropriate internal temperature.

Food and Lifestyle To boost your immune system many steps should be followed. Try to reduce stress by cooking, dancing, playing music, home crafting, doing your workout wether a walk next to the house or youtube gym workout (but not extreme ones not to stress your body). Sleep at least 7 hours in a row. Try to be exposed to sun through your open window or balcony thus getting a good amount of vit D. Follow a balanced diet rich in fiber, green leafy vegetables (spinach, mache..), citrus fruits (kiwi, orange…) for your vit C intake and food high in zinc such shellfish and eggs, nuts, whole grains and legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans). Garlic, onions and spices such as ginger and tumeric are rich in antioxidants, which scavenge on free radicals that can weaken the immune system. Include Omega-3 which can be found in seafood and raw nuts. Sugar, processed meat, smoking and alcohol should be reduced since they tend to be inflammatory so they busy the immune system, leaving other problems in your body unaddressed. Moreover, moderate consumption of herbs like Eryngium creticum, thym and Hyssopus officinalis are useful for acute or chronic respiratory problems.

At this point there is no evidence really pointing us towards food/food service as ways that are driving the epidemic. Keep in mind, though, the immune system cannot be boosted overnight. It is about long-term lifestyle changes. Thus, we have to stick on healthy lifestyle to see the difference after months. Let us keep being optimistic.

 

  • References: https://www.bbc.com/news https://www.eatright.org https://edition.cnn.com https://www.fda.gov https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/ https://www.lefigaro.fr/ CDC’s Interim US Guidance for Risk Assessment and Public Health European Food Safety Authority
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SOMATOTYPES: a Myth or a Reality?

Elissa Naim

Dr. Elissa Naim

In the 1940s William H. Sheldon, an American psychologist, introduced the concept of morphotype. Since then, nutritionists, physiologists and even doctors have used it to develop individualized fitness plans. Some argue that knowing the morphotype will guide you to the best way of choosing your diet and even your exercise program. Is categorization by morphotype a myth or a reality?

 

WHAT IS A MORPHOTYPE?

It has started with an observation: humans have varied morphologies: Is there a cause and effect relationship between morphology and eating habits? Morphotypes are a taxonomy to classify the human physique according to the relative contribution of three fundamental elements which Sheldon called "somatotypes": Ectomorph, Endomorph or Mesomorph.

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ECTOMORPH

Little body fat as well as little muscle, people with the ectomorphic morphotype are flexible with thin bones and long limbs. They can eat what they want without gaining weight. They have a fast and efficient metabolism, as well as difficulty gaining weight. Ectomorphs are hyperactive and strive to increase muscle mass. Models, ballerinas and basketball players generally belong to this group.
Although ectomorphs tend to be highly valued, it should be remembered that they have their own problems. Hence, males struggle to gain muscle mass and may appear stiff. Females tend to have flat breasts and may complain that they look masculine. These people have to work very hard to achieve their goals.
Worthnoting that with age, the ultrafast metabolism of ectomorphs slows down and, as a result, they sometimes gain weight if they are not used to exercising and monitoring their calorie intake.

 

MESOMORPH

An average size, mesomorphs can easily develop muscles and little fat. They are generally strong and muscular, without excess weight. They are characterized by a strong athletic body. Men have often wider shoulders than their hips and women tend to have an hourglass figure. Mesomorphs can have no trouble eating what they want because they can easily lose weight. Mesomorphs could be considered genetically lucky people. Generally, tennis players, skaters and bodybuilders are part of this group.

 

ENDOMORPH

Pear-shaped physique, people with an endomorphic morphotype have a curvilinear physique with the characteristics opposite to ectomorphs. They have a slow metabolism, gain weight easily and have to work hard to lose body fat. Endomorphs most often have a larger size and have hips wider than the shoulders. They have a higher percentage of body fat with less muscle mass. They are very often heavier, but not necessarily obese. No stress! Some of the sexiest and most beautiful singers and actresses as well as many heroes of action movies are endomorphs.

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WHAT IS THE INFLUENCE OF MORPHOTYPE ON WORKOUT AND DIET?

 

ECTOMORPH

Ectomorphs are effective in converting carbohydrates into energy and their rapid metabolism means that they burn fat easily. The downside is that they have trouble gaining muscle because their muscle fibers are underdeveloped. No worries! To become more muscular, they must minimize cardio sessions and focus on intense workouts using compound exercises to maximize the release of growth hormone. They are advised to eat every two to three hours.They also need to consume about 3,000 calories per day, including a large amount of starchy carbohydrates and whey protein, possibly in the form of supplements.

 

MESOMORPH

Mesomorphs have the best body type for gaining muscle. However, they tend to take their naturally athletic forms for granted, which can lead to diluted workouts and poor nutrition. Maintaining optimal physical condition means following a progressive plan that will make you stronger by increasing your power without becoming too bulky.To fuel your workouts, you should eat lots of whole grains, while limiting your total fat intake. You can indulge in exercises like sprinting, high jump and boxing.

 

ENDOMORPH

The endomorph is the most difficult body type to manage in terms of weight and fitness management. For a more balanced physique, you need to focus on developing the shoulders and removing excess fat from the lower body. A low to medium intensity cardio program will help you get rid of fat. Although aerobics is recommended by specialists, weight lifting training is preferable too because it can burn calories long after the last exercise. The best diet for your body type may therefore be a higher percentage of protein and fat and a lower percentage of carbohydrates. This diet can help you lose body fat while maintaining your energy level.

Remember that somatotypes are just a way to describe your body constitution, but the truth is that you have to design your training program and diet based on the goals you want to achieve. No matter what the scale says, if you’re in a healthy body-composition range, you’re doing well!

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maggy_mhanna

The COVID-19 Dilemma: 2 Strategies, Which is Worse?

 

Maggie Mhanna

 

There seem to be two strategies to fight coronavirus: The ‘contain’ approach & the herd immunity strategy.

 

 

The ‘contain’ approach

The first strategy is to try and completely contain the virus longer and perhaps long enough for a treatment to emerge. This strategy seems to be adopted by the authoritarian government of China, which has applied some of the strictest control measures and responded by massive lockdowns and extreme digital surveillance. The impact of these measures has been remarkable. In Hubei Province alone, over 60 million people were placed under lockdown and most factories were shut completely. The economic costs are enormous. About one-third of the medium-sized businesses surveyed said they had only enough to survive for a month.

In Singapore, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, outbreaks were brought under control without resorting to China’s draconian measures. These countries reacted only a few days after the Wuhan Outbreak by implementing mass testing, retracing every step and contact of suspicious cases, and imposing mass quarantines & isolations.

In Taiwan, a specialized unit has collected national health insurance, customs, and immigration databases, generating data to trace people’s travel history and medical symptoms. It also used data from mobile phones to track people coming from areas with the virus, who were then quarantined.

The South Korean government has published the movements of people who presented a potential risk, retracing their steps using their GPS phone tracking, credit card records, and surveillance videos.

At the individual level, the SARS experience in eastern Asia has helped to prepare people to voluntarily exhibit a tremendous amount of self-discipline.

Challenges

While the ‘contain’ approach has proved to successfully control the outbreak rate, the nature of the methods used, such as collecting phone location data and using facial recognition to track people’s movements, cannot be readily replicated in many other countries, especially ones with institutional protections & data regulations for individual rights.

On the other hand, many countries do not have the necessary infrastructure to implement these strict containment measures, which include widespread testing, quarantines, production and distribution of medical & protective supplies… This will divide the world into red zones and green zones, and travel will be restricted between the two zones until adequate therapy is found.

On the economic level, it seems that the lockdown approach could take long. Scientists fear that as soon as the strict measures are lifted, the virus will repropagate again. With a long-term containment, many businesses might be forced to close. With such economic instability, will we be seeing a growing societal & political unrest triggered by confined people with little means of survival?

Herd Immunity

Herd immunity is a theory normally used when large numbers of children (around 60 to 70%) have been vaccinated against a disease like measles, reducing the chances that others get infected, and therefore limiting the chances of propagation.

The supporters of this strategy believe we can let the infection spread through the entire population until we have herd immunity, and just space out the infections over a longer timespan by implementing some mitigation measures without resorting to the severe lockdowns occurring in China. With such lighter measures, they hope to slow down the spread of the disease, instead of containing it, to flatten the curve (a popular curve trending on social media lately) in order to slow down the spread rate so that our medical system is not overwhelmed and that our mortality rate remains reasonable. This strategy also means a less drastic impact on the economy.

The US, Germany, France and especially the UK seem to be the main advocates of this strategy. It can be sensed when Merkel gave the Germans a hard truth saying that 60% to 70% of German people will be infected and when Macron used the word “slow down” in his speech instead of “contain” the epidemic.

Challenges

This tactic in fighting against a pandemic for which there is no vaccine is novel and alarming as we do not know yet how long this immunity lasts. The virus could evolve. We have already seen multiple strains of the virus in Italy and in Iran and will probably see many more, as a result of a large number of carriers.

Another worrying reason is that flattening the curve is not that easy. What’s dangerous about these curves is that they don’t have numbers on the axes in a way that the used scale suits the advocates. If we set some estimates on the axes of these curves and compare the “with protective measures” curve and the “without protective measures” curve, we find out that the difference is huge. Dampening the infection rate to a level that is compatible with the medical system capacity means that we would have to spread the epidemic over more than a decade (Ref.).

An estimated Curve for the US (Ref.)

Based on today’s data, we can estimate that about 20% of the cases are severe and require hospitalization. If the propagation rate fails to divert below the medical system capacity the way it’s intended following such a risky strategy, we would surely witness a much higher mortality rate.

Even under the most optimistic assumption that countries will be able to control the spread rate the way they desire and provide more medical resources & infrastructure, it seems like the western leaders have found that the best strategy is a one for which 70% of people gets infected (47 million in the case of France) and 3% dies (1.4 million for France).

Capture d’écran 2020-02-08 à 00.42.18

Orthorexia : When overthinking about healthy eating becomes the culprit!

Dr

Dr. Elissa Naïm

 

 

Everyone is searching for a brand new miraculous diet, an appropriate one to lose quickly some Kg gained during holidays, vacation, and stress period. We have already seen different types of diet since the mid of the last century. Nevertheless, a big part of these trendy diets have their pros and cons taking into account the period following each one of them.

Thus, in order to overcome the disadvantages of extreme diets and to improve their wealth, some people simply decide to turn to a healthy eating pattern across their lifespan. Yet in some cases, this turns into obsession.

Capture d’écran 2020-02-08 à 00.35.25

According to Dr Steven Bratman, MD, MPH, “Orthorexia” is an unhealthy obsession with eating healthy food. As defined in 1996, the term is derived from the ancient Greek word “orthos,” which means “right,” or “correct,” and is intended as a parallel with anorexia nervosa. People with orthorexia become so fixated on so-called ‘healthy eating’ that they actually damage their own well-being. It mainly concerns the quality of food more than the quantity.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF ORTHOREXIA

Capture d’écran 2020-02-08 à 00.37.29
  • Compulsive checking of ingredient lists and nutritional labels with a focus on additives, preservatives and food colors.
  • Considerable time spent thinking about food and planning the meal
    Cutting out an increasing number of food groups (all sugar, all carbs, all dairy, all meat, all animal products)
  • Showing high levels of distress when ‘safe’ or ‘healthy’ foods aren’t available
  • Obsessive following of food and ‘healthy lifestyle’ blogs on Twitter and Instagram
  • A sense of guilt linked to the transgression of strict dietary recommendations
  • The search for self-esteem and spiritual fulfillment through the control of food intake
  • The feeling of satisfaction and pride in eating healthy to maintain health and bodily purity
  • Contempt for those who do not respect the dogmas of dietetics
  • A tendency to hold moralistic and rigid talks on healthy eating
  • The conception of food as a medicine to the detriment of taste. The notion of pleasure is completely absent
  • Abstaining from eating foods bought or prepared by others and the fear that eating out of your home will make it impossible to follow the diet
  • The abuse of food supplements.
  • The pretext of food allergies not diagnosed to justify that we avoid certain foods.

THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF ORTHOREXIA

Physical effects:

This condition will probably cause the same medical complications as other eating disorders: A lack of essential nutrients can lead to malnutrition, anemia, an abnormally slow heart rate, problems with digestion, hormonal imbalances or even bone health.

Psychological effects:

Orthorexic people can experience an intense frustration. For them, breaking the self-imposed food rules is liable to provoke a feeling of guilt, a self-hatred or an impulsion to purify themselves by means of cleanses or fasting. Therefore, they will spend a lot of time checking if certain foods are sufficiently clean or pure: Does it contain pesticides, hormones, artificial flavors or preservatives?

Capture d’écran 2020-02-08 à 00.42.18

Social effects

People with orthorexia often follow strict rules imposed by themselves, which foods can be combined or eaten at particular times of the day. Such rigid eating habits can complicate social activities accessing food such as lunches and dinners or invitations to weddings or other events. In addition, eating only the right foods gives a person with orthorexia a feeling of superiority over others. This can severely strain relationships with family and friends which becomes less important than the master of his eating habits. These strict rules and his beliefs in food can lead him to isolate himself socially and to experience a depression of anxiety attacks or panics in extreme cases. The worsening of emotional symptoms is an indicator of the evolution of the disease towards a serious eating disorder.

Are you excited to follow a healthy food diet? That’s great! However, be careful and reasonable in your choices and don’t let it turn into a primary source of happiness and meaning or interfere with your relationships or work, friends or family.

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