Could your weight be a factor in how COVID-19 could affect you? As the British government brings in measures to curb obesity, this week’s Nutrition News looks at why weight is such an important aspect as well as other nutrition studies that have been released this week.

Read the findings here.

Why the UK government is focusing on obesity

We recently discussed in a previous Nutrition News article the reasons why the UK might be suffering from the implications of COVID-19 more than most other European countries. The government has gone a step further since this news article and announced a new initiative, as reported by the BBC, to tackle the UK’s obesity level in the hope that it’ll make us stronger against respiratory illnesses such as COVID-19.

The government’s plan includes measures that will focus on better nutrition and encouraging the nation to be more active, with bans on junk food advertising before 9pm, displaying calories on restaurant menus and encouraging GPs to prescribe cycling to patients.

The announcement comes as government statistics have been published that show that nearly 8% of those critically ill in intensive care with COVID-19 have been morbidly obese, compared to 2.9% of the general population.

While it is important to maintain a healthy weight in order to stay well and support our immune systems, it is also vitally important to think about nutrition beyond fat and calories and ensure you are getting a wealth of essential nutrients in your diet.

Quercetin for heart and brain health

A recent study from researchers at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine have found that quercetin, the bioflavonoid found in capers, can offer brain and heart health support.

The researchers found, as reported by NutraIngredients, that quercetin appears to modulate potassium ion channels in the KCNQ gene. These channels are hugely influential on our health and the researchers found that just 1% extract of pickled capers activated channels important to heart and brain health as it regulates the proteins required for bodily functions such as heartbeat, muscular contraction, and the normal function of the thyroid, amongst others.

It's thought that quercetin binds to a region of the KCNQ channel that is required for responding to electrical activity and, in doing so, tricks the channel into opening when it would normally be closed.

As with most new research, more analysis and further studies are needed to come to a full conclusion on the effects of quercetin but this latest paper is very promising in its results.

What is l-carnitine?

We all know we need vitamins and minerals to stay healthy but what about amino acids? This recent article by Medical News Today highlights the importance of l-carnitine, a vital amino acid that helps turn fat into energy.

The important thing to remember about l-carnitine, according to Medical News Today, is that it is a conditionally essential nutrient, which means the body typically makes enough of it but sometimes it is necessary to obtain more through food or food supplements.

As well as helping the body produce energy, l-carnitine helps remove some waste products from the cells to help prevent waste from building up.

Due to its role in energy production, a number of people consider supplementing their diet with additional l-carnitine; this includes athletes and those looking to lose weight. However, it is important to remember that there hasn’t been enough research yet to conclusively support these theories and that it is always recommended to speak to your healthcare practitioner before introducing any food supplements to your diet.

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Alison Astill-Smith author Alison is Director and Founder of Metabolics who writes about Metabolics updates, events and natural healthcare. Her experience and passion for natural supplements and healthcare comes from her years of experience as a practising osteopath, having founded Metabolics in her search for high quality, natural products in her own work. Alison has been a qualified and practising Osteopath since 1981 and regularly gives seminars on a range of healthcare subjects to the wider practitioner community helping share her knowledge and experience.