There are many reasons why there are racial disparities are observed in COVID-19 morbidity. I’ve not heard people talk about the implications of living in a “food desert” as one of them. Grayson Jaggers, USC Asst. Professor has laid out a case of why the worst expression of the western diet is directly causing deaths among people who can’t get health food:
Scientists know that people with preexisting health conditions are at greater risk for severe COVID-19 infections. That includes those with diabetes, obesity, and kidney, lung or cardiovascular disease. Many of these conditions are linked to a dysfunctional immune system.
Patients with cardiovascular or metabolic disease have a delayed immune response, giving viral invaders a head start. When that happens, the body reacts with a more intense inflammatory response, and healthy tissues are damaged along with the virus. It’s not yet clear how much this damage factors into the increased mortality rate, but it is a factor.
What does this have to do with nutrition? The Western diet typically has a high proportion of red meat, saturated fat and what’s known as “bliss point foods” rich in sugar and salt. Adequate fruit and vegetable consumption is missing. Despite the abundance of calories that often accompanies the Western diet, many Americans don’t consume nearly enough of the essential nutrients our bodies need to function properly, including vitamins A, C and D, and the minerals iron and potassium. And that, at least in part, causes a dysfunctional immune system: too few vitamins and minerals, and too many empty calories.
There’s more at the link above, plus a ton of good links to research.
Maybe more community gardens need to be happening this coming spring?