Yesterday, I talked about the emerging phenomenon of long COVID—a condition in which patients experience symptoms as long as 12 weeks after the start of acute illness.
Today, I’d like to continue the conversation by sharing more new research on its potential origins… along with at least one simple recommendation that might help keep long-term symptoms at bay.
Fighting back with bacteria
As you know, COVID-19 is respiratory illness. But it looks like your gut may have a key role in the way that infection plays out.
More specifically, the microbiome appears to influence the severity of illness, as well as the immune system’s response to infection. Not only that, but it may also play a role in the chronic inflammatory symptoms that we now know as long COVID.
Now, I can’t say this is terribly surprising. (After all, we’ve known for a while that the gut is the seat of your immune system.) But let’s have a look at what this research shows us…
Scientists took blood and stool samples along with medical records from 100 hospitalized COVID-19 patients between February and May of last year. They compared these to data they took from 78 people before the pandemic started.
Analysis of the stool samples showed that the microbiome composition differed significantly between patients with and without COVID-19, regardless of treatment. More specifically, patients with COVID-19 had higher populations of Ruminococcus gnavus, Ruminococcus torques and Bacteroides dorei.
They also had fewer bacteria that help to modulate immune response—including Bifidobacterium adolescentis, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium rectale.
Meanwhile, lower numbers of F. prausnitzii and Bifidobacterium bifidum had links to severe infection, regardless of patient age or antibiotic use. And these populations stayed low for as long as a month after infection.
Preventing the cytokine storm
As I’ve mentioned here before, COVID-19 infection also generates inflammatory responses in the body—and in the worst cases, catastrophic responses called “cytokine storms” that lead to tissue damage, sepsis, and organ failure.
But this research also found that COVID patients with imbalanced bacteria suffered higher levels of these inflammatory cytokines—along with blood markers of tissue damage, like C-reactive protein.
This suggests that the microbiome mediates the immune response to COVID-19 infection. And I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised.
But here’s where things get really interesting: These researchers believe that gut imbalance is likely implicated in cases of long COVID, where symptoms persist for weeks, if not months.
They’re quick to point out that, being an observational study, it’s too soon to claim a causal relationship between an imbalanced microbiome and poor COVID-19 outcomes. But given what we already know about the gut’s role in immune responses, well… it’s not exactly a stretch.
So I’m more than confident in recommending that you add a high-quality, multi-strain probiotic to your daily supplement regimen (if you’re not already taking one). One that features prebiotics, probiotics, and postbiotics.
To learn more about why the health of your microbiome needs to become a top priority in your life—starting today… check out the March 2019 issue of my monthly newsletter, Logical Health Alternatives (“EXCLUSIVE: Your ultimate guide to a complete microbiome makeover”). Not yet a subscriber? Click here to become one today!
“Make-up of gut microbiome may influence COVID-19 severity and immune response: Imbalances in type and volume of bacteria may also be implicated in ‘long COVID’.” SciencevDaily, 01/11/2021. (sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/01/210111190135.htm)