The Hidden Link Between Diabetes and the Pandemic

May 26, 2020
woman using a blood sugar testing device with a 98 mg/dl reading

What do high blood sugar levels and the pandemic virus have in common? The answer is in the blood.

The longer this pandemic goes on, the more we learn about the virus causing it. Up until the past few weeks, doctors presumed the virus targeted the lungs, causing fluid accumulation and decreased respiration, then the lack of oxygen damaged other organs. This is when acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) set in and the patient was placed on a ventilator, often with a very poor outcome. But thanks to researchers and some very outspoken doctors in hot spot areas, our understanding of the virus has changed – and explains why diabetics (and anyone with hyperglycemia at the onset of infection) die from the virus at a rate 4 times higher than the general population.

What Does the Virus Really Do Inside Your Body?

Researchers have discovered that the virus isn’t attacking your lungs – it’s attacking your red blood cells. Oxygen is carried through your blood stream in the form of hemoglobin, part of your red blood cells. A molecule of hemoglobin contains 2 oxygen molecules and 2 iron molecules. Your hemoglobin needs both the iron and the oxygen together to deliver oxygen to all of your cells.

The research shows that the virus targets your hemoglobin and binds to the iron and breaks it loose from the hemoglobin molecule, inserting itself in its place. Without iron, the hemoglobin can no longer carry oxygen. As more hemoglobin is damaged, there is less oxygen carrying capacity, and the symptoms of respiratory distress appear.

Lung cells become toxic and inflammatory, and as this process continues, it leads to pneumonia and the now infamous cytokine storm. Because of this lung inflammation, capillaries break easily and coagulant proteins rush in, forming tiny blood clots and further inhibiting oxygen absorption. This leads to damage in many other organs and critical illness.

What all of this shows us about the virus is that problems don’t start with the oxygen absorption in the lungs – it all starts with oxygen delivery in the blood. And this explains why diabetics fare so much worse than others when they contract the virus.

The Diabetes Connection

Researchers have been analyzing all of the patient data they can get their hands on since this pandemic started. In a US study published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology, as many as 22 percent of those with severe infection requiring hospitalization had diabetes or uncontrolled hyperglycemia upon admission. This makes sense because diabetics already have hemoglobin issues.

The biomarker commonly used to measure long-term blood sugar control in diabetics is the Hemoglobin A1c test, commonly nicknamed the A1c. This test measures the percent of hemoglobin that’s coated with sugar through a process called glycation. Glycation impairs oxygen delivery and is one reason diabetics are more prone to infections in general. The higher your A1c is, the more impaired your oxygen delivery becomes.

This mechanism is the reason I feel the A1c test and a fasting insulin level should be included in everyone’s yearly physical exam. Sugar coated hemoglobin, increased insulin, and the resulting reduced oxygen carrying capacity is a root cause syndrome behind many chronic illnesses – whether you have diabetes or not. Less oxygen means more inflammation, while higher insulin and blood sugar lead to cortisol and hormone disturbances that also drive inflammation and illness.

So now that we know that this virus is adding insult to injury in those who struggle with blood sugar control, it’s time to look at the silver lining in this cloud – an innovative antiviral approach.

How to Boost Your Oxygen Levels in Health and Disease

Looking at the poor outcomes of patients who have been placed on ventilators, we can see it’s vitally important to increase oxygen levels before pneumonia and secondary infections set in, especially in those with diabetes and hyperglycemia. This is where oxygen therapies come in. They have a well studied, proven track record of success with both diabetics and infections.

Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) delivers pure oxygen in higher-than-atmospheric-pressure environment. This pushes oxygen into the blood plasma for immediate delivery to cells, bypassing the hemoglobin. HBOT has anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory, and antiseptic effects and is known to stimulate new blood vessel growth. During the SARS coronavirus epidemic, HBOT was used to successfully treat several patients with pneumonia and is currently in clinical trials here as a treatment for the current pandemic virus. It is widely available through functional medicine clinics throughout the US.

A wide variety of ozone therapies have also been shown to be effective, both in diabetic complications and as an antiviral. When we think of ozone, normally we think of that protective layer over the earth – but it’s also protective of your health. In a nutshell, it triggers production of antioxidants in your body to combat chronic illness effects, and has antiseptic properties that fight infectious diseases.

Ozone is a diabetic’s best friend. In one study, patients with diabetic foot issues who received ozone therapy not only had superior wound healing to the control group who received antibiotics instead, but also better blood sugar control and reduced oxidative stress. Their lesions also healed better and the amputation rate was far lower than those who received antibiotics. As an added bonus, the ozone group reported no side effects.

This means ozone not only stimulates the body’s antioxidant defense mechanisms, but is also a potent antiseptic that can take on bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. It has been studied and proven successful against the MRSA superbug and the SARS coronavirus. And once again, several outspoken doctors throughout the world are touting the benefits of ozone therapies in treating their pandemic patients, alleviating both side effects of other therapies and symptoms of the disease itself.

All of this is wonderful news for those already struggling with these diseases, but as the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If we really want to rip the risk of disease out by the roots, it starts with better blood sugar control.

Balance Blood Sugars for Long Term Health

When your blood sugar levels start creeping up on your yearly testing, the first pieces of advice given are usually “lose weight and eat a low glycemic diet.” I’m pretty sure that by this time, we’ve all tried to lose weight somehow, but have you ever tried to eat low glycemic without a plan to follow? You either memorize which foods fall in the low glycemic range, or you pull out an app before you plan (or order) every meal. We’ve all learned the hard way how difficult this advice is to follow.

While you are transitioning to a healthier way of living, it helps to have a trusted nutritional supplement to get you going in the right direction. Weight Loss Formula from UNI KEY Health is my first choice. It contains Oregon grape root for immune support, and its rich berberine content aids in blood sugar balance. Chromium is an essential mineral for blood sugar balance that also helps curb cravings and is often low in those with high blood sugar levels.

I know firsthand what a challenge this can be. That’s why I developed both my Fat Flush and Radical Metabolism plans. People were coming to me at the first signs of high blood sugar and prediabetes and needed to eat healthier and lose weight. My New Fat Flush Plan quickly became a New York Times bestseller because of how successful it is for anyone who needs to lose weight and learn how to eat for better blood sugar control.

I knew that people who suffered with chronic illness like diabetes and autoimmune disease for any length of time found it more challenging to lose weight and inflammation, so a more detoxifying plan was needed to help them reach their health goals. I had them all in mind when I wrote my tremendously successful Radical Metabolism plan. This 25-day radical reboot works at the cell level to help you get your health, weight, and blood sugar back on track, for both the short-term and for life.

You don’t have to do this alone. Consider this your invitation to join my Fat Flush Nation and/or Radical Metabolism Revolution groups on Facebook, to find not only my knowledgeable staff of nutritionists, but also people like you who got sick and tired of being sick and tired and took the steps to get their health back on track. Now is the best time to start!

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Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Norma

    I will be more serious about controlling my blood sugar. I have prediabetes.

    • Team ALG

      Norma, That sounds like a great idea. It’s best to prevent more serious problems if you can do that.

  2. Darla Jean

    The oxygen connection is very interesting.

  3. Ellen

    I’m going to try that Weight Loss Formula. I need something to help with my blood sugar swings.

    • Team ALG

      Ellen, The Berberine and chromium have a long track record of helping with blood sugar stability. I’m so glad you are going to try the Weight Loss Formula.

  4. Team ALG

    Darla Jean, It is an interesting connection and very important for survival if you are one of the individuals who have diabetes.



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