How are the two linked?

Diabetes and COVID-19 are related in some very meaningful ways. Find out how—and what it means for you!

The diabetes-COVID relationship

Although our knowledge of SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus (and COVID-19, the disease it causes) epidemiology is still uncertain in many areas, one of the strongest associations to emerge thus far is the link between diabetes mellitus and severe COVID-19 infection.

Many reports have now emerged showing that patients who have diabetes are vulnerable to a more severe course of COVID-19. It has been suggested that the underlying metabolic perturbations (disturbances) present in diabetes cause an impaired immune response and exaggerated inflammation when infected with the coronavirus.

A large Chinese study of 1,099 COVID patients found that diabetic patients with COVID-19 were more likely to need intensive care compared to nondiabetic COVID patients. A total of 22 percent of ICU COVID patients were diabetic, compared to only 10 percent of non-ICU COVID patients.

In analyses of 2,003 Chinese and Italian case fatalities, the prevalence of diabetes among COVID patients who died was twice that found in surviving COVID patients.

Another Italian study of 3,988 ICU patients found that type 2 diabetes was associated with an 18 percent increased risk of dying from COVID.

The importance of optimal glucose control

Research suggests that optimal glucose control may be important for all individuals, including those without a diagnosis of diabetes, when it comes to mitigating COVID risk and/or severity.

Based on the data so far, it seems reasonable that better glycemic control may translate into mitigation of COVID morbidity and mortality.

It should be noted that more research is still needed in this area and that diabetes management is not a replacement for following public health measures for COVID prevention. It’s important to follow all public health guidance, including mask wearing and physical distancing.

Diabetes management

The most crucial lifestyle factors for management of diabetes are weight loss, diet, and exercise.


Adopting a diet high in green and colored vegetables and lower in refined carbohydrates, with moderate amounts of lean protein and healthy fats such as nuts, olive oil, and fish mimics the Mediterranean dietary pattern, which has consistently yielded benefits in the areas of diabetes and heart disease.


Regular exercise five times weekly for up to an hour improves insulin sensitivity and promotes weight loss.

Stress management

Stress management is also an important consideration, especially given that many of our unhealthy behaviors are an adaptation to life stress, contributing to a vicious cycle.

Natural health products (NHPs) can help

NHPs with evidence for blood glucose regulation in patients with diabetes include

  • vitamin D
  • berberine
  • alpha-lipoic acid
  • chromium
  • inositol
  • curcumin

Other NHPs with additional benefits on secondary targets such as cardiovascular health and inflammation include

  • fish-derived omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA)
  • probiotics

Consult a licensed naturopathic doctor to determine which NHPs may be most suitable for you.