A review by the American Society for Microbiology has found growing evidence that an altered gut microbiota and related leaky gut may play a part in the onset of gastrointestinal symptoms of Covid-19.
Gut health plays an important role in helping your body to fight off disease - 70% of the immune system is housed in the gut.
Korea University’s laboratory for human-microbial interactions, Heenam Stanley Kim, studied emerging evidence suggesting that poor gut health may cause more severe Covid-19 symptoms.
He concluded that gut dysfunction and leaky gut, which is commonly associated with poor gut health, can cause Coronavirus to reach the digestive tract’s surface and internal organs, making the symptoms of the disease worse: “There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe Covid-19.”
People with health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity, and older individuals, are more likely to get more serious Covid symptoms. Importantly, these health conditions, and older age are linked to an altered microbiota.
Kim also said that some other researchers have linked an unhealthy gut with the severity of infection.
Even beyond the pandemic, Kim said that gut health remains a contributing factor to other diseases. He said: “The whole world is suffering from this Covid-19 pandemic, but what people do not realise is that the pandemic of damaged gut microbiomes is far more serious now.”
The hypothesis has not yet been empirically proved, although many studies carried out recently have found less bacterial diversity in gut samples of Covid-19 patients, compared with healthy people.
If studies are able to empirically prove a link between poor gut health and Covid-19 severity, then trying to improve your gut health by taking probiotics could be helpful to patients, the review stated.
Probiotics contain good bacteria which can improve your gut health. Probiotic foods include yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, tempeh, kimchi, miso and kombucha, among others. You can also take probiotic supplements. The advantage of consuming probiotic foods and probiotic supplements together is that it can increase the diversity of bacteria in your gut, maximising your immunity.
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You can read the review by the American Society for Microbiology here.