Our guts are often overlooked in conversations about protecting ourselves against COVID-19, or minimizing impact if we do contract the virus. And yet, 70% of our immune function resides in our gut, and gut symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea are commonly experienced by people who have COVID-19. Sometimes gut problems are the only symptoms. What gives?
Because the coronavirus is new, we don’t have scores of longitudinal peer-reviewed studies to help us understand how the virus works, how to heal it, and what the long-term effects are. However, since we do know a lot about how viruses generally behave in the body, we can look at what is happening now and find correlations that give us clues on how to strengthen our resiliency against COVID-19.
Supporting and fortifying the gut is one way to support our immune systems. Gut bacteria provide immune modulation, so the presence and diversity of beneficial bacteria in our gut microbiome means we can be more effective in navigating whatever comes our way – whether bacteria, viruses, toxins, allergens, etc.
Gut bacteria can influence whether our immune system is over- or under-responding. One of the features of COVID-19 that has been observed is a “cytokine storm” – in essence, an immune system hyper-response. Beneficial gut bacteria have been shown to modulate the immune reaction, and emerging research suggests that improving the composition of intestinal flora is a possible strategy to strengthen our resilience when it comes to COVID.
How to Grow Beneficial Gut Bacteria
Fortunately, there are some things we can do to feed our good gut bacteria!
1. Below is a list of foods that beneficial bacteria love to munch on, which helps them make a home in your gut.
2. Probiotics are an additional approach. I’d be happy to point you in the right direction regarding which probiotics are most effective and high-quality.
3. Exercise feeds beneficial bacteria as well – they need oxygen just like we do!
How to know the status of your gut microbiome and beneficial bacteria you ask? Specialized stool testing is a great tool to find out. Knowing the specific status of your beneficial bacteria, not-so-beneficial or pathogenic bacteria/fungi/parasites, gut inflammation, and intestinal permeability (i.e. do you have “leaky gut”) allows us to fine-tune eating, lifestyle and probiotic/herb recommendations for optimal health and resilience. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about how microbiome testing might help you.
If you’re experiencing gut-related symptoms like bloating, constipation, stomach pain or reflux, it might be affecting your ability to become – or remain – your healthiest self. Feel free to book a complimentary chat with Dawn if you’d like to talk about your situation!