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New Study Notes Link Between Gut Health & Severity of Covid19 Symptoms

“Coronavirus is really good at spotting people with preconditions

Our Independent Scientific Advisor, Prof. Moyna was on the radio this week, discussing gut-health and immunity. (Listen: LMFM & MidwestRadio)

Over the course of these interviews, he alluded to a recent study published by the University of Hong Kong that noted a pattern among patients who had contracted Covid19: those studied who were suffering from severe symptoms – and what is being termed ‘long-covid’ – showed a depletion of ‘good’ bacteria in their gut microbiome.

We thought we’d let you know a bit more about this particular paper and additional research into the vital importance of gut health on immunity.

THE RESEARCH

The paper in the BMJ ‘Gut’ publication was titled: ‘Gut microbiota composition reflects disease severity and dysfunctional immune responses in patients with COVID-19’.

Below is the abstract, method and conclusions noted:

Methods: In this two-hospital cohort study, we obtained blood, stool and patient records from 100 patients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Serial stool samples were collected from 27 of the 100 patients up to 30 days after clearance of SARS-CoV-2. Gut microbiome compositions were characterised by shotgun sequencing total DNA extracted from stools. Concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers were measured from plasma.

Results: Gut microbiome composition was significantly altered in patients with COVID-19 compared with non-COVID-19 individuals irrespective of whether patients had received medication (p<0.01). Several gut commensals with known immunomodulatory potential such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Eubacterium rectale and bifidobacteria were underrepresented in patients and remained low in samples collected up to 30 days after disease resolution. Moreover, this perturbed composition exhibited stratification with disease severity concordant with elevated concentrations of inflammatory cytokines and blood markers such as C reactive protein, lactate dehydrogenase, aspartate aminotransferase and gamma-glutamyl transferase.

Conclusion: 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. Furthermore, the gut microbiota dysbiosis after disease resolution could contribute to persistent symptoms, highlighting a need to understand how gut microorganisms are involved in inflammation and COVID-19.

IMPLICATIONS OF FINDINGS

Although we can do our best to follow guidelines, we are unable to guarantee we won’t contract Covid19, so the implications of this study – in conjunction with previous research about Gut Health & Immunity – raises two key points:

👉🏽 If we concentrate on tending to our gut health as a priority – feeding it with fibrous, nutrient dense, natural foods – we are fortifying our immune system to robustly fight any viral infection we do contract, and by these findings, possibly lessening the severity of our symptoms.

👉🏽 If we do contract Covid19, one of the best defences against ‘long covid’ is to have a healthy, balanced microbiome.

*You can listen to Prof. Siew C. Ng (The Chinese University of Hong Kong), an author on the paper, explain the implications of their study in greater detail here.

GUT HEALTH = GOOD HEALTH

“A huge proportion of your immune system is actually in your GI tract,”

(Dan Peterson, Assistant Prof. of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)

Although a long-held principle in Eastern Medicine, in the past few decades modern Western Medicine has increasingly devoted research space to the vital role the Gut and its complex ecology plays in the overall health of our bodies.

“The immune system is inside your body, and the bacteria are outside your body.” And yet they interact. For example, certain cells in the lining of the gut spend their lives excreting massive quantities of antibodies into the gut. “That’s what we’re trying to understand—what are the types of antibodies being made, and how is the body trying to control the interaction between ourselves and bacteria on the outside?” 

(Dan Peterson. Article here)

Myriad research findings are in agreement: concluding that a well maintained healthy gut will have a positive relationship with:

👉🏽 Stabilising the blood sugar levels – this has significant positive effects on pre-diabetic adults

👉🏽 Implications for hormonal complications such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

👉🏽 Potentially lowering cholesterol

👉🏽 Acting as preventive agent of inflammatory disease, Arthritis, Crohn’s

👉🏽 Overall immunity: 

“The gut is one of the core disease-fighting systems of the human body. First, the acid and enzymes in the stomach work to sterilize our food and, in this way, protect the body from illness and infection. In addition, the digestive tract is an important source of immune function in the body. “All foods we eat are in communication with immune receptors in the digestive tract, triggering hormones and various cell types that help the body with its immune function,”

Dr. Lisa Ganjhu (clinical assistant professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center)

As our knowledge on Covid evolves and more research emerges, it seems to be a safe consensus that Gut health is Good Health!

YOUR GUT-HEALTH BASIC CHECKLIST:
Fibrous, Nutrient dense (natural) foods, Prebiotics & Probiotics
Fresh fruit, Veg, Pulses, Wholegrains ✔
Drink Plenty of water ✔
Maintain a routine of daily gentle exercise ✔
Prioritise good quality sleep ✔

Resources

BMJ ‘Gut’ article

WEB MD: How Do Gut Bacteria Affect COVID-19 Severity?

Hopkins Medicine. The Gut: Where Bacteria and Immune System Meet

NCBI: Effects of high performance inulin supplementation on glycemic status and lipid profile in women with type 2 diabetesnlm.nih.gov/24688953/

NCBI: Exploration of the Relationship Between Gut Microbiota and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS)

AMERICAN HEART ASSOC NEWS: Gut bacteria may impact body weight, fat and good cholesterol levels

Atlas Biomed: The Facts On Inflammatory Bowel Disease And The Gut Microbiome

Your Gut Feeling: A Healthier Digestive System Means a Healthier You