Researchers in the United States have developed an experimental infection model of the Syrian hamsters that were fed a high-fat, high sugar diet that investigates the impact of a Western lifestyle on COVID-19 severity.
Utilizing the Syrian hamster model, researchers have found that the Western lifestyle of Americans could affect immune protection, COVID-19 severity, and viral replication with those who have had an interaction with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, or the agent that causes COVID-19.
Syrian hamsters that were infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome, which is a common research method when looking at the coronavirus, were fed a continuous high fat, high sugar (HFHS) diet. These hamsters that were on the HFHS diet exhibited delayed viral clearance, delayed lung recovery, severe diseases, and increased weight gain and lung pathology compared to mice that were fed a regular diet.
The research team from the National Institutes of Health in Montana says that for the first time utilizing the Syrian hamster model, they have illustrated the impact of an HFHS diet on COVID-19 severity and outcome.
The presence of comorbidities, like chronic lung disease, obesity, metabolic disease, and diabetes, can affect clinical outcomes when it comes to COVID-19. Severe COVID-19 outcomes and the risk of hospitalization are significantly increased for individuals that have these comorbidities.
These chronic metabolic disorders are a consequence of unhealthy diets, like HFHS, that are comprised of highly processed foods. These foods are high in saturated fats and refined sugars, which is a staple of US foods.1
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1Port, J. R., Adney, D. R., Schwarz, B., Schulz, J. E., Sturdevant, D. E., Smith, B. J., Avanzato, V. A., Holbrook, M. G., Purushotham, J. N., Stromberg, K. A., Leighton, I., Bosio, C. M., Shaia, C., & Munster, V. J. (2021). Western diet increases COVID-19 disease severity in the Syrian hamster. https://doi.org/10.1101/2021.06.17.448814