The gut microbiome may influence the severity of COVID-19 and immune responses

A recent study published in the Gut Journal has formally linked the gut microbiome – the trillions of microbes that live in the gut – to the severity of Covid-19 and the immune system’s ability to respond to the virus. Added to that, imbalances in the microbiome may be the reason for persistent inflammatory symptoms also known as ‘long Covid’. Researchers obtained blood and stool samples and medical records from 100 hospital in-patients with laboratory-confirmed Covid-19 between February and May 2020 – and from 78 people without Covid-19 who were taking part in a microbiome study before the pandemic. This is what they found
  • The composition of the gut microbiome in patients with Covid-19 is consistent with disease severity. This means that people who had a severe case of Covid-19 had a similar make up of microbes in their gut
  • Patients with Covid-19 were depleted in gut bacteria known to support the immune system, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale and several bifidobacterial species
  • The microbial imbalance in patients with Covid-19 persists after clearance of the virus and could be responsible for instances of long Covid.
  The research opens up many questions and further areas of study and the scientific community has called for more funding and research into this area. For example we don’t know what the patients’ microbiomes were like before they became infected with the virus. We’ve been talking to Dr Alanna Collen, author of 10% Human: How your body's microbes hold the key to health and happiness, who says: "We know the gut microbiome is a key player in immunity and general health, so it is not surprising to see this novel research showing its role in Covid-19 severity.  Cultivating personal and home microbiomes that enhance our immunity and help us resist disease is crucial for good health, and this is especially true during the pandemic." Gastrointestinal symptoms have been linked to Covid-19 since early in the pandemic. Initial reports suggested they affected around one in ten people. Although nausea, cramps, and diarrhoea were less well-known than a cough and a fever, ongoing research has confirmed that these symptoms are important indicators of the disease. Diarrhea could even be a sign of more severe COVID-19 infection, according to an August 2020 study out of the University of Southern California. In a dataset of nearly 56,000 Covid-19 patients, every patient who experienced diarrhoea as an early symptom eventually came down with pneumonia or respiratory failure. More research is needed to explore this potential connection, but it's possible that gastrointestinal problems such as "leaky gut" syndrome may allow the coronavirus entry into cells in the digestive tract. Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal lining is disrupted, creating tiny gaps through which interlopers such as coronavirus can penetrate into surrounding organs and tissue.     We work with a brilliant Medical Herbalist and Naturopath, Patti Worcester who commented on the research saying: "How fabulous that modern science and medicine is again acknowledging the fact that the gut biome is paramount to the health of humans. Natural medicine has been saying this for hundreds of years.   In light of this research the best thing this government could do during the pandemic would be to shut fast-food chains, which we know are not providing the public with food that will sustain their microbiome and therefore their health and immunity.   Yes, protect the NHS by educating the public, especially during such crises, but on a day-to-day basis, we can protect our loved ones, families and the wider community by eating good food, taking microbes and taking care of those around us."   It is great to see that science is investigating the link between people’s gut microbiome and their vulnerability to any viral or pathogenic attack including Covid-19.   We have long understood that the gut is the seat of our immunity and so it follows that the health of our microbiome is crucial for our resilience to this deadly virus.   We echo the call for more research into this area and a better understanding of the microbes that are crucial in supporting immunity and resilience.   Meanwhile, have you taken your Bio-Live today?  

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