Could the severity of covid be related to gut health? Preliminary studies indicate there might be a connection. Microbiologist Heenam Stanley Kim, Ph.D, from Korea University’s Laboratory for Human-Microbial Interactions, in Seoul was recently quoted saying the following:
Gut dysfunction — and its associated leaky gut — may exacerbate the severity of infection by enabling the virus to access the surface of the digestive tract and internal organs. These organs are vulnerable to infection because they have widespread ACE2 — a protein target of SARS-CoV-2 — on the surface. There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe COVID-19,”Read the study HERE.
The Importance of a Healthy Gut
In 2500 B.C. Hippocrates said “all disease begins in the gut.” The gut is the home to billions of healthy bacteria and is often called the gut microbiome, gut flora, or gut microbiota. These include the bacteria, microorganisms and other microscopic entities that live in the gut.
However, if the gut is overrun with bad bacteria, the risk of illness increases greatly.
There have been many studies on the gut, with preliminary research indicating the gastrointestinal tract may have a bigger role in covid than originally thought:
“Associations between gut microbiota composition, levels of cytokines and inflammatory markers in patients with COVID-19 suggest that the gut microbiome is involved in the magnitude of COVID-19 severity possibly via modulating host immune responses.“Read the full study HERE.
The problem we have in modern society is the way we treat our illnesses. The primary focus is to alleviate the SYMPTOMS. For example, if a person has a headache, they are given aspirin. But what caused the headache? High blood pressure medication keeps blood pressure levels in check, but what’s causing the elevated levels?
We rarely go to the SOURCE of our ailment, which in many instances starts in the gut. These symptoms tend manifest in other areas of the body, but few people make the correlation:
“Imbalance of the normal gut microbiota have been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and wider systemic manifestations of disease such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atopy.”Read the study HERE
In other words, we don’t associate sickness with the gut. One ailment called “leaky gut” isn’t even recognized as a real condition by most doctors. (This is when there are minuscule tears in the gut that allow bacteria to “leak” through.)
Best and Worst Foods For Gut Health
Even though researchers are still studying the potential link between covid and the gut, it still plays a pivotal role in other diseases.
Here are some of the best and worst foods for gut health:
|Best Foods For the Gut||Worst Foods For the Gut|
|Green leafy veggies (spinach, lettuce, greens, kale, etc.)||Smoked meats|
|Berries||Sausage, hot dogs, lunch meat|
|Cruciferous veggies (Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)||Soda|
|Nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, etc.)||Trans Fat|
|Mushrooms||Refined white flour|
|Onions||Refined white sugar|
|Tomatoes||Sweetened dairy products|
The Power of Prebiotics and Probiotics
Prebiotics and probiotics are essential for gut health. Probiotics contain the good bacteria found in fermented foods. These bacteria keep the gut healthy and running smoothly.
Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are the most common forms of probiotics. Prebiotics provide the probiotics with the nourishment they need to work efficiently in the gut. (The healthy foods listed above are either prebiotics or probiotics).
Other popular probiotics include the following:
- Apple cider vinegar (considered a prebiotic and/or a probiotic by some)
- Dark chocolate
- Spirulina chlorella
Probiotics play a key role in helping the body fight viral infections. Studies on probiotics indicate they may play a role in covid-19 as well:
“Most data show good results demonstrating that probiotics can play a significant role in fighting SARS-CoV-2 infection, also compared with their use in the past for various diseases. They seem effective in lowering inflammatory status, moreover in patients with chronic comorbidities such as cancer and diabetes, improving clinical outcomes.“Read the study HERE.
In addition to the healthy foods listed above, supplements are also available:
In addition to foods and supplements, the following spices are good probiotics also:
- Bay leaves
Exercise and Gut Health
In addition to eating the right foods, exercise is another way to improve gut health:
“Recent studies suggest that exercise can enhance the number of beneficial microbial species, enrich the microflora diversity, and improve the development of commensal bacteria. All these effects are beneficial for the host, improving its health status.“Read the study HERE.
Popular exercises for gut health include the following:
- Brisk walking
- Breathing exercises
Practically any exercise that requires movement is good for gut health. Aim for 15-60 minutes per day of exercise.
Call To Action
I’m not a doctor, but I do believe an unhealthy gut does increase our risk of disease. Does it play a role in covid? I do not know, but studies indicate the severity of covid can be linked to a weakened immune system and preexisting conditions.
The key for all of us is to maintain good health, and that includes focusing on our guts. This area often gets overlooked, but is very important.
If a person chooses to get the vaccine, by all means go for it. That is a personal choice. But at the same time, do NOT rely on a vaccine or a pill to keep you healthy. Your immune system is the key, and is the first line of defense against illness and disease. Everything else is secondary.
Don’t wait until you’re sick to start taking better care of yourself. Be proactive and strengthen your immune system by eating healthy foods and living an active, healthy lifestyle.
Get more tips in my books The Diet of Success: Healthy Eating Tips For Hard Working Professionals and The Three Pillars of Strength: Increasing Your Physical, Mental and Spiritual Fitness. Both available on Amazon.