Do you like sugary drinks or caffeine? Here’s how they hamper your COVID recovery


Over the past and a half years, as we journeyed through the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have become increasingly aware of our health and that of our loved ones. We also have many health related questions and need a space where we can get scientific answers. To provide you with such a space to raise your questions and concerns, has developed the “Health Hacks” column, your one-stop information panel where all of your health-related questions, especially COVID, will be answered.

The column is written by Dr. Chandrakant Lahariya (MBBS, MD), a medical epidemiologist and leading expert on COVID-19 disease and vaccines. In this bimonthly column, Dr Lahariya discusses a variety of topics and offers tailor-made solutions to meet the health needs of your entire family – children, adolescents, adults and seniors, and all other members.

In today’s column, Dr. Lahariya explains how our lifestyle choices like drinking, smoking, and sleeping patterns, in fact, our COVID-19 recovery.

How have people’s sleep patterns been affected due to a long COVID?

A few reports and studies have indicated that the sleep patterns of people affected by COVID-19 have changed. If we look at the evidence, we notice a whole range of sleep-related issues. Some people sleep more than before, and sleep disorder specialists have called it “COVID-somnia,” and others have difficulty sleeping (insomnia) or altered sleep cycles.

People with post-VOC or long symptoms have also reported insomnia, night sweats, and other problems. From insomnia to hyper-somnia (excessive sleep), night terrors, to the abuse of sleeping pills, the phenomenon is reported and treated not only in people recovering from COVID-19 but also among others during this pandemic. .

People facing such a problem could be those who may never have contracted COVID-19. This is because in times of pandemic it has affected the mental health of individuals and that is why people have sleep issues and related issues. We must also remember that every illness or ill health has effects not only on physical health but also on mental health. This is a reminder for everyone to pay attention to aspects of physical and mental health.

Has the pandemic resulted in increased dependence on medical pills?

From India, fortunately, there are no such reports. However, in some countries epidemiologists and researchers have observed an increase in substance use and drug overdoses since COVID-19. However, this is also the time when the government begins to pay more attention to these aspects.

How Does Alcohol Affect People Recovering From COVID?

Alcohol abuse can affect our body in several ways. It can up-regulate or extra-activate the immune system, cause inflammation, interfere with and reduce the body’s immune response by down-regulating it. Both are not good. We know of so many harmful effects of alcohol consumption on the heart, lungs and almost every organ in our body. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage the epithelial cells that line the surface of the lungs and is associated with acute respiratory distress syndrome. Ultimately, impaired immune system function and increased susceptibility to respiratory disease could contribute to more severe COVID-19 and a higher risk of death. In addition to the physical effect of alcohol abuse, we must remember that recovering from COVID-19 requires good mental health and ending up with harmful alcohol consumption is not the way to cope. . Everyone needs to be careful and control their drinking habits.

Does a sedentary lifestyle play a role in delayed recovery from COVID?

Even without the COVID-19 pandemic, a sedentary lifestyle is the risk factor for many health problems. Now the sedentary lifestyle leads to co-morbidities which lead to poor outcomes from SARS CoV2 infection. As a risk factor for severe disease COVID-19, physical inactivity was only surpassed by advanced age and a history of organ transplants. We all need to adopt four healthy behaviors: regular mental activity, healthy eating, quitting smoking, and avoiding harmful alcohol consumption. We can assume these four risk factors for cardiovascular disease; we reduce our risk of heart attack and other related diseases. The COVID-19 pandemic is our opportunity to re-commit to a healthier lifestyle. Regular physical activity is a zero cost health intervention. Each age group can start at a varying time of the day or week. What could be more important to engage in regular physical activity. Do more today than yesterday and tomorrow more than today, that must be an approach.

Is Excessive Screen Time Harmful During COVID Recovery Process?

The increase in screen time among young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic correlates with an increase in distress from the pandemic. Additionally, increased digital screen time and limited outdoor activities are associated with the onset and progression of poor eyesight. Thus, they could potentially be aggravated during and beyond the period of the COVID-19 epidemic.

The WHO has pointed out that increasing screen time replaces healthy behaviors and habits like physical activity and sleep routines and leads to potentially harmful effects such as reduced sleep or daytime inversion. night, headaches, neck pain, nearsightedness, digital eye syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, high blood pressure and insulin resistance due to the increased sedentary time in adults. Additionally, the increase in screen time during the COVID-19 pandemic is negatively affecting the quality of people’s sleep.

On screen time, we have to pay special attention to children. Very young children should not spend time in front of a screen. Children in nursery and primary schools have very limited screen time. However, online courses have increased exposure. Parents need to be careful with their screen time and, in order to reduce their screen time, may have to manage the screen time of adults in the family.

Should someone quit smoking while recovering from COVID?

COVID-19 or not, smoking is harmful and everyone should quit. There is a great deal of scientific evidence that has shown the mechanisms by which smoking causes harm. People who smoke have twice as many complications after surgery as those who do not smoke. People who smoke also have much worse problems with scarring, infection, blood clots, fractures, and chronic pain. Smoking compromises the immune system, which is associated with an increased risk of lung disease. Finally, smoking damages the lungs, leaving lung tissue inflamed, fragile and more susceptible to infection.

Then, against the backdrop of the COVID-19 results, Chinese studies show that smokers admitted to hospital with COVID-19 were three times more likely to be admitted to intensive care or die than non-smokers. In the United States, smokers admitted to hospitals were twice as likely to die. Additionally, a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine found that people who smoke were 2.4 times more likely to experience severe symptoms of COVID-19 than those who did not smoke.

Can Excessive Caffeine Consumption Affect Recovery?

Drinking large amounts of coffee, tea, and even caffeinated carbonated drinks and energy drinks have known harmful effects. These can lead to dehydration and negatively impact sleep patterns. Too much caffeine (which is also present in tea and not just coffee) has short term effects such as anxiety, tremors, palpitations, diarrhea, headaches, indigestion, problems of sleep, as well as long-term effects in the form of insomnia, acid reflux, migraine triggers, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and hypertension. This is not the complete list. A good approach may be that everyone should avoid having tea or coffee after 6 p.m., and that could be a good rule of thumb, if not a hard rule.

How does sugar or sugary drinks affect people’s bodies during recovery?

Sugary drinks such as sodas, packaged fruit juices, fruit juice concentrates and syrups, flavored milks and drinkable yogurts are harmful to the body because they do not constitute a balanced diet. Studies have shown that most Indian snacks, whether sweet or salty, are very unhealthy. Excessive consumption of free sugars and carbohydrates is very harmful. The excess sugar in our blood affects immune cells and weakens the immune system. It is a breeding ground for the growth of bacteria and viruses, which also like such high sugar levels in our blood. Having too much sugar, especially refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup, can damage the body in the form of insulin resistance. This condition locks the immune system into a vicious cycle as the body has to produce more and more insulin to help it reach the cells. Therefore, it is important not to consume nutritionally obsolete sweet products. Drinking water instead of sugary drinks is a simple way to limit sugar intake and excess calories; however, this is easier said than done. Therefore, determined effort and commitment to slowly reduce sugar intake is required, and it is doable. Make a commitment today and you’ll get off to a good start.

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