The Labs to Know to Heal Inflammation and Decrease COVID Risk

The COVID Pandemic is not giving us a break. Despite massive vaccination efforts, the disease continues to spread due to genetic variation.

Beyond vaccination status, a strong, efficient immune system protects you from COVID and chronic disease. This requires a healthy metabolism.

Do you know what Diabetes, Hypertension, COPD, Coronary artery disease all have in common? At the root of all these disease is inflammation.

In my Internal Medicine Practice, I manage the most common diseases that decrease life expectancy. Many people don’t realize that these diseases (also known as Modifiable Factors), also correlate with Inflammatory Status.

Risks Factors for COVID

Risks of developing severe infection from COVID is known to relate to COVID. There are factors are considered non-modifiable (you can’t control these). Most of risk factors for becoming infected with COVID are controllable.

  • Age greater than 60
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Heart Disease (Hypertension, Congestive Heart Failure for example)
  • Being a Current Smoker
  • Cancer1

Naturally, it’s not that you will cure any of these diseases. They are chronic, and took many years to develop. Helping your immune system means you want to know the status of each of these issues that are treatable.

If you have a diagnosis of one of these disease, here are some of the numbers you should ask your physician.

DiseaseNumber to Know
Diabetes MellitusA1C-90 Day Blood Sugar Average
COPDFEV1-Stage of Lung Damage Present, Oxygen Saturation
Heart DiseaseBlood Pressure, Pulse
CancerWhite Blood Cell Count
Numbers to Know for Chronic Diseases

Once you know these numbers, you will want to make a goal to improve them. Diabetics that have controlled blood sugars will overall do better than having high blood sugars.

Know Your Inflammatory Status

COVID does its damage to the body by causing a cascade of damages through acute inflammation. Our immune systems are designed to create inflammation in order to fight infection. We are learning that having a baseline inflammatory system increases a person’s risk of becoming critically ill with COVID.

Chronic Inflammation in the body can come from diseases, untreated metabolic issues, elevated cholesterol, autoimmune diseases, or cancer. Abnormalities in these labs means the body is struggling. Symptoms may or may not be present.

Inflammatory MarkerWhat it Means
ESR (Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate)Elevated levels means there is infection, damage or overall inflammation in the body.
C-RP (C Reactive Protein)General inflammatory marker that can be used to detect disease or monitor chronic illnes.
HDLLarge cholesterol particle that when it’s low can mean overall poor metabolic function and inflammation.
TriglyceridesElevated levels mean metabolic disturbance and inflammation
VLDLSmall, dense cholesterol that may elevated in chronic inflammation
FerritinMarker used to check for anemia, can be elevated in chronic inflammation.
WeightObesity has been shown to increase risk of death from COVID

These inflammatory markers can be easily checked in blood work. Many are part of typical panels that are drawn in yearly labs. Knowing and monitoring these numbers is a great way know if you are treating your body well. Inflammatory markers will respond positively when the underlying condition, such as diabetes, obesity, or high cholesterol.

Know Your Nutritional Status

There is a temptation to feel that if your weight is normal, or if you are overweight that your nutritional status is good. Unfortunately, being overweight often increases your risk of being malnourished. Having low levels of needed nutrients in your body not only increases you chances of infection, but also of cancers and advanced aging.

Lab/MarkerRisks of Disease or illness
Vitamin DLow levels increase risk of contracting COVID, bone disease, and cancer.
Vitamin B12Low levels can damage nerves and brain health
PotassiumLow levels usually in a diet poor in fruits/vegetables; can worsen high blood pressure
BUN/CreatnineMarkers of kidney function. Even small elevations require a workup.
AST/ALTTest for liver function. Elevated levels may be marker of metabolic disease
Protein/AlbuminMarkers of protein levels, which help the body heal and recover.
MagnesiumElectrolyte that helps blood vessel function and can help in blood pressure control.

Healing Inflammation

Knowing your inflammatory status can help you feel better now, and prevent disease in the future.

If you’re ready to take a deep dive into Inflammation, including the labs to know, the signs to look for, sign up for updates:

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1.Zabetakis I, Lordan R, Norton C, Tsoupras A. COVID-19: The Inflammation Link and the Role of Nutrition in Potential Mitigation. Nutrients. 2020 May 19;12(5):1466. doi: 10.3390/nu12051466. PMID: 32438620; PMCID: PMC7284818.


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