Researchers are examining the connection between the microbes that live in the human gut and how they may affect the severity of COVID-19.
Our bodies have trillions of bacteria living in the digestive system, but particularly in the intestines and colon. A team of scientists in China investigated how the coronavirus affects this microbial population and what role our gut may play in regulating the severity of the disease.
According to an article published in Newsweek, the Chinese researchers claim that the coronavirus enters the body by binding to the ACE2 enzyme, which has an important role in regulating intestinal inflammation. ACE2 also has a “major impact” on the makeup of the microbes in the gut and also affects diseases of the heart and lungs, according to Newsweek.
Statistics show that over 60% of COVID-19 patients display gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. This group also develops a more severe form of the disease, said the study authors.
In their recently published research, the scientists reported using modern technology to measure the blood protein levels of healthy people and compared these to patients who had COVID-19. They used this information to create a score called the blood proteomic score or PRS.
When they measured the PRS on COVID-19 patients, they found that just a 10 percent increase of the PRS correlated with an increased the risk of disease severity by a whopping 57%. This was most prevalent in people aged 58 and older, according to Newsweek.
Glenn Gibson, professor of food microbiology at the University of Reading, U.K., told Newsweek he would have liked the study authors to suggest ways to reduce that risk.
“The gut microbiome is critical to health and well-being,” he said. “I am not surprised to see the anti-inflammatory links with COVID-19 set out there but it is very good indeed to see this evidence and use modern techniques to do so.”
Gibson says he’s been encouraging his patients to take both pro and pre-biotics for weeks that boost microbial health. According to Nutra Ingredients, keeping your gut healthy not only supports the body’s immune response to infection but also helps prevent damage to the lungs and other organs.
Professor Tom Spector, a genetic epidemiologist at King’s College in London tells Nutra Ingredients that a strong and diverse microbiome system in your gut can be best achieved by following a Mediterranean diet, eating yogurt and natural cheeses, and eating fermented vegetable-based foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut.
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