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Why Diabetes Makes You More Susceptible to Viruses

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 08/31/2023

Headlines trumpet the news: diabetes is one of the underlying conditions that cause higher rates of death among COVID 19 patients.

You’re a type 2 diabetic. And you’re worried. Perhaps you know someone who was diabetic and succumbed to COVID 19.

Worry is natural, but I also want to explain to you what’s going on. Information is power, and I want you to be able to make empowered choices about your health, especially now with the pandemic.

And I also want you to know that there are steps you can take to lessen your risk of becoming infected, and your chances that this virus will cause your death..

In this article, I’ll explain:

Let’s take a closer look.


Your Chances Of Dying Skyrocket

Diabetes makes you more susceptible to viral infections, including the coronavirus that causes the disease known as COVID 19. If you get infected, your chances of dying go way up.

How far up?

Being a diabetic triples the mortality rate from this virus.

That’s horrifying.

The question is: why?

a picture of a dead person’s toes with a mortuary tag on one

Why is it that you, as a diabetic, are at far more risk of infection and death from COVID 19?

I’ll explain.

How The Virus Invades Your Body

To begin, the virus enters cells in your body via a receptor protein on the cells. The receptor is a type called ACE2.

Once the virus enters your cells, it starts to replicate.

The higher number of ACE2 receptors you have on your cells, the higher your susceptibility will be to the virus. It can enter in so many different places, and from there multiply quickly.

Here’s why for you as a diabetic, this is a problem.


Why People With Diabetes Are Especially At Risk

Diabetics have many more ACE2 receptor proteins on their cells than do people who don’t have diabetes. This is because high blood glucose results in a higher number of ACE2 receptors than someone with normal blood glucose levels. As well, people whose Fat Storing Hormone levels are high also have more of these receptors.

It’s like a double whammy.

This is one reason why, as a diabetic, you’re more susceptible to viruses.

If that’s not bad enough, let’s take a look at a couple of reasons your risk level goes way up.

Fat Storing Hormone Resistance Is Also A Culprit

Another risk factor is a condition called Fat Storing Hormone resistance, which develops after years of chronically high Fat Storing Hormone causes your cells to simply ignore Fat Storing Hormone. Your pancreas, which produces Fat Storing Hormone, gets a signal that it needs to make more to try to get the cells’ attention.

So it pumps out more, but your cells still can’t use it. They’re numb to Fat Storing Hormone; they resist it. And your Fat Storing Hormone levels continue to climb, creating a vicious circle.

About 75 percent of the population has Fat Storing Hormone resistance, making it shockingly common. Fat Storing Hormone resistance can impair your body’s response to a viral infection, possibly because your immune cells also resist Fat Storing Hormone and thereby don’t get the boost they need to keep your immune system strong.

But that’s not all.

High Blood Sugar Reduces A Crucial White Blood Cell Your Immune System Relies On

People with hyperglycemia, whether they are a full-blown diabetic or have pre-diabetes, experience a decrease in what are called neutrophils.

A neutrophil is a type of white blood cell that your body mobilizes in response to a virus or other pathogen. When you have an infection, about 70 percent of your white blood cells are neutrophils.

Neutrophils are a type of cell known as a phagocyte, “Phag” means “to eat”; thus, it’s a cell that eats both viruses and bacteria. Phagocytes are most heavily involved in viral infections rather than bacterial infections..

When you’re a diabetic, the amount of your neutrophils goes down.

photo of a neutrophil

Can you see how this is a problem? Phagocytes provide necessary immune infection by eating viruses. When you have fewer or them, your immune system is robbed of much of its power.

Specifically, neutrophils:

  • Eat viruses, as I mentioned
  • Release antimicrobial chemicals that kill pathogens; interestingly, they release hydrogen peroxide and chloride bleach.
  • Use a strategy called NETS, where they literally cast a net over microbes and dissolve them with the toxic chemicals they produce

Isn’t the body amazing?

Even though one of the problems with neutrophils is that they may cause some collateral damage to your immune system from the poisons they produce, the point is that your immune system is compromised when you don’t have enough neutrophils. Your body simply doesn’t have the weapons it needs to fight infection.

Think of it this way.

If you sent out your troops to fight a battle without weapons, what’s going to happen? They’ll get defeated. And this is what happens when your blood sugar is high - your troops end up without the weapons they need.

This is why you as a diabetic end up with a higher mortality rate from COVID 19, and from other viruses too.


How You Can Lower Your Risk Of Infection And Death

If you’re a diabetic, and you’re concerned about COVID 19, you’re putting yourself at risk if you continue to eat high-carbohydrate foods. You’re missing a key piece to this entire puzzle.

The missing piece? Go on the low-carbohydrate Healthy KetoTM diet.

a word cloud for the ketogenic diet

Slightly modify your diet by cutting way down on carbohydrates. Combine low-carb with intermittent fasting ,so that you don’t eat as often as you normally do.

You’ll lower your Fat Storing Hormone and blood glucose levels, reducing your risk of susceptibility to COVID 19 and other viruses. You can strengthen your immune system as well as improve your type 2 diabetes.

With a global pandemic raging, please take it upon yourself to make healthier food choices to lessen your risk from COVID 19. Learn what to eat as a diabetic.

You owe it to yourself to take every precaution you can to protect your health. Choosing a healthier diet is at least as important as other measures such as wearing a face mask, social distancing, and remaining home as much as possible.

I urge you to lessen your risk of infection. If you don’t get infected in the first place, the virus can’t kill you. It’s just common sense, right? Please do everything you can to protect yourself. You matter.

Disclaimer: Our educational content is not meant or intended for medical advice or treatment.

Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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