The Horrible Story of “COVID Fat”

By: Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP
Salesian Cooperator

I have noticed a new trend since the COVID 19 epidemic. Now that the safer at home order is no longer in place, we have gathered with friends and families to celebrate our new freedom in person. Lo and behold, many of us have gained weight within these last 15 months. Staying home to avoid the viral exposition is a good thing. However, the unintended side effect from this immobility is the obvious visceral fat that many of us have been carrying all these months. I thought the relationship of insulin resistance and visceral fat could be an interesting topic to many.

Just to remind us of the definition of insulin resistance; it is a condition where the body is unable to use its own insulin properly. People with insulin resistance require, and may produce, more insulin to help glucose get into the cells. A consistent over-production of insulin, coupled with taking in more calories from food than you can use, promotes weight gain.  Of all the factors that pre-dispose us to insulin resistance such as genetics, age, medication side effect, obesity is the most common culprit. Having too much stored fat in our body, especially in the abdomen, is the visceral fat that we need to pay attention to. Visceral fat is closely related to insulin resistance because it is fat that is stored in many organs, particularly in the liver. When glucose is not utilized properly, the liver loses its metabolic functions. Visceral fat increases inflammation and leads to a disruption of the entire body’s insulin signaling. Muscle, organ, and fat cells all take in varying amounts of glucose for energy via insulin. The ability of these cells to make energy, and ultimately do their individual jobs, is therefore affected when insulin fails to get glucose into the cell. With weight gain, the accumulation of fat in these cells impairs the insulin signaling which leads to the overproduction of insulin. Excessive glucose in the bloodstream and storage of this energy as fat ultimately increase inflammation and eventual disease.

Insulin resistance may increase your risk of stroke. Dr. Tatjana Rundek’s publication in 2010 noted the finding of a strong relationship between insulin resistance and stroke risk. The risk for stroke increased over other vascular events.

Sheila’s note: the above is abstracted from “The everything guide to the insulin resistance diet” by Ms. Marie Feldman and Ms. Jodi Dalyal. I highly recommend this book for people with diabetes because it is easy to read, and provides alerts and facts pertinent to people with diabetes/insulin resistance.

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: check your weight and be ready to pick up a new life style to prevent insulin resistance.

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