The variety and volume of bacteria in the gut, known as the microbiome, may influence the severity of COVID-19 as well as the magnitude of the immune system response to the infection.
A new scientific survey suggests that it may be possible to avoid severe Covid-19 symptoms by maximising your gut health.
Research from the Chinese University of Hong Kong found people suffering with Covid-19 had a ‘significantly altered’ microbiome composition, while separate research from South Korea found people with a poorly functioning gut are more likely to develop severe Covid-19.
The scientists suggest the following foods could help protect your gut from Covid because they contain crucial bacteria’s – chicory, wheat, onion, banana, garlic and leek. They are all high in inulin, a natural prebiotic.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir and kimchi and finally whole grains, all help promote ‘good’ gut bacteria. While fruits, particularly apples and pears can work to reduce ‘bad’ bacteria.
In a study published in BMJ medical journal, the role of gut health and how it can impact COVID-19 was further investigated.
The study noted: “COVID-19 is primarily a respiratory illness, but the evidence suggests that the gut may also have a role.
“As the gut is the largest immunological organ in the body and its resident microbes are known to influence immune responses, the researchers wanted to find out if the gut microbiome might also affect the immune system response to COVID-19 infection.
“To characterise the gut microbiome, 41 of the Covid patients provided multiple stool samples while in hospital, 27 of whom provided serial stool samples up to 30 days after clearance of SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19.
“Analysis of all 274 stool samples showed that the make-up of the gut microbiome differed significantly between patients with and without COVID-19, irrespective of whether they had been treated with drugs, including antibiotics.”
“Since emerging evidence is showing more and more how the gut microbiome can play an important role in keeping us healthy, we wanted to support research that examines the role of the microbiome related to COVID-19 incidence and outcomes, which is an urgent public health crisis currently impacting the world in so many dimensions,” says Dr Miguel Freitas.
He continued: “You see, not only are there hundreds of viruses that cause respiratory infections, but research also suggests a legitimate connection between the gut and lung microbiota systems—and that connection is one that could spur or temper COVID-19.
“Both your digestive and immune systems are impacted by your diet—support them by consuming a varied diet, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains and certain fermented foods that contain probiotics.
“Your digestive system is home to billions of bacteria representing your gut microbiome, but it also houses 70 percent of your immune system.
“This is why certain foods can both benefit your gut health and immune system.
“I personally encourage people to consume fermented products like yogurt and kefir to support gut health and the immune system.”
How to improve gut microbiome
Maintaining a healthy gut contributes to better overall health and immune function, said Medical News Today.
The health site continued: “By making appropriate lifestyle and dietary changes, people can alter the diversity and number of microbes in their gut for the better.
“Positive changes a person can make include taking probiotics, following a fibre-rich vegetarian diet, and avoiding the unnecessary use of antibiotics and disinfectants.
“Other simple lifestyle changes a person can make include getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.”