Obese, Poor Metabolic Health Carry and Spread More Virus (viral load deep dive)

by Mike Mutzel


Various studies have found a correlation with obesity, poor metabolic health and higher viral loads. In this session we summarize the body of research, suggesting it's our moral obligation to get and stay metabolically healthy.




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Time Stamps:

05:30 Use food shortages to favorably change your habits. Work with a local farmer. Grow your own chickens. Buy locally.

07:22 Elevated glucose levels directly promote viral replication and cytokine expression. The viral load is dramatically increased. The processing of energy is intimately involved in our body’s immune response.

09:21 Overweight people have prolonged viral shedding, more virus in their breath and more viral variability. More viral load means more viral replication.

10:50 Body fat is a reservoir for Corona viruses and is linked to prolonged viral shedding.

13:50 Individuals with higher body mass index have a higher viral load.  Metabolically healthy people have less viral load (less replication), a shorter shedding period and a milder course of infection.

15:30 Higher viral load may have implications in transmissibility of the virus, especially in the more transmissible variants. Higher viral load seems to create a higher antibody response.

16:50 Detectible serum SARS COVI2 viral load is closely associated with drastically elevated interleukin 6 level in critically ill COVID 19 patients. Interleukin 6 is a chemical messenger used by your immune system to respond to immunologic triggers. People with obesity and chronic inflammation have chronically higher levels of interleukin 6. When these folks encounter an illness like COVID19, there could be far more damage from the cytokine storm.

18:00 Measuring interleukin 6 is expensive. An option is to measure CRP. If CRP is elevated, it is likely that interleukin 6 and other cytokines are elevated. Smoldering inflammation is often the result of under exercising and over-consumption of packaged foods.


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19:00 There is a strong correlation between common co-morbidities and levels of viral load. These co-morbidities are caused by our diet and lifestyle choices.

19:40 Exhaled aerosol increases with COVID, age and obesity. Viral load increases with increasing age and increasing BMI.

23:20 Gut dysbiosis may be the cause of the viral/bacterial co-infections found in the lungs of COVID patients.

24:58 Highly processed carbs with fat cause dysbiosis and compromise the integrity of your intestinal epithelial tissue and can alter the gut/lung axis. Microbiota can directly or indirectly impact the outcome and differential viral infection.

25:40 The virus and other pathogens can hijack their way into the body on gram negative bacterial lipopolysaccharides, especially if you are eating processed foods.

27:18 ACE2 receptor modulation by viral infection can significantly influence the content and leakage from the gut.  Severe forms of COVID19 are connected with pronounced GI symptoms and opportunistic pathogens in gut microbiota.

29:29 Poor gut health may mean that you may have weakened immunity or immune response in your lungs.

29:45 Sedentary people have reduced muscle function, increased cardiovascular risk factors, impaired immune function, immunosenescence, and increased incidence of lung inflammation and bacterial pneumonia. This leads to more severe viral infections.

30:15 People who regularly exercise have improved immune responses, decreased incidence of infection, improved lung function, stronger and longer lasting antibody responses to vaccinations, mitigated immunosenescence and more ability to fight inflammation. This leads to less severity of viral infection.


Lewis, A. M., Zhang, X., Brestoff, J., (2021). COVID-19 severity in obese patients may be linked to viral load and immune response. The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

Codo, A. C., Davanzo, G. G., de Brito Monteiro, L., de Souza, G. F., Muraro, S. P., Virgilio-da-Silva, J. V., et al. (2020). Elevated Glucose Levels Favor SARS-CoV-2 Infection and Monocyte Response through a HIF-1α/Glycolysis-Dependent Axis. Cell Metabolism, 32(3), 437–446.e5.

Maltezou et al (2021). Association Between Upper Respiratory Tract Viral Load, Comorbidities, Disease Severity, and Outcome of Patients With SARS-CoV-2 Infection. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, 223, 1–7.

Sattar, N., McInnes, I. B., & , J. M. (2020). Obesity is a risk factor for severe COVID-19 infection: multiple potential mechanisms. Am Heart Assoc, 142, 4–6. http://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.047659

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