Maintaining a healthy weight and increasing HDL or “good” cholesterol levels can help lower the risk of Covid-19 infections, researchers claim in a new study.
Previous studies showed that people with type 2 diabetes and a high body mass index are at greater risk of hospitalizations and other serious complications related to Covid-19.
However, the new study from the University of Maryland in the US has identified certain lifestyle factors such as body weight and cholesterol as new risk factors for Covid-19.
“Our results suggest some healthy steps people can take to potentially reduce their risk of Covid-19 infection,” said Charles Hong, professor of medicine in the university’s School of Medicine.
“Weight management is very important during this time, and measures to increase HDL levels like regular exercise and a diet high in monounsaturated fats like extra virgin olive oil and avocados might also help,” noted Hong.
The team found that people who were Covid positive were more likely to be obese or have type 2 diabetes. They also had a higher risk of getting any symptomatic infection at all, the researchers claimed.
On the other hand, those who tested negative were more likely to have high levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and a healthy weight with a normal body mass index (BMI). This was the result of the study published in the journal PLoS ONE.
“Certain baseline cardiometabolic factors appear to either protect a person from Covid-19 infection while others make a person more susceptible to infection,” said Hong.
“However, this study was not intended to determine which factors actually cause Covid-19 infections. These are statistical associations that indicate the importance of a healthy immune system in protecting against Covid-19 infections,” Hong added.
For the study, the team used UK biobank data from 5.00,000 UK volunteers over 40 years of age. The health determinants were compared between those who tested positive for Covid-19 and those who tested negative.
(With contributions from agencies)