Sick and miserable? Here’s why

This past cold/flu season was a rough one for my patients.

It seemed they would catch a virus… and then take ages to recover.

I’ve seen this happen plenty, even before the pandemic. And in retrospect, I wonder if I was seeing COVID cases before we knew what it was.

Now, four years later—I know, I find it hard to believe myself—and it’s still happening.

What gives?

Better protection against viral infections

It seems as if almost daily, we’re learning something new about our microbiome.

Well, today is no exception.

I’ve reported before that a diverse microbiome, comprised of several different strains of bacteria, translates to better health. That includes better protection against common viruses like COVID-19.

And now, according to a preliminary study on mice, researchers can confirm that the composition of the gut microbiota influences susceptibility to and severity of respiratory virus infections. (Think colds, the flu, COVID-19, and respiratory syncytial virus [RSV].)

For the study, researchers looked at how different microbial species influence the outcomes of respiratory virus infections.

They compared the composition of the mice’s gut microbiomes—and measured viral titers in the lungs a few days after infection. (Viral titers refer to the number of virus particles present in a cell during infection.)

Turns out, those viral titers differed significantly depending on the gut’s composition…

Communication from within

Researchers discovered that segmented filamentous bacteria—a group of different bacteria found in the guts of rodents—protected the mice against the flu, RSV, and COVID-19.

And they noted that these bacteria communicated with immune cells in the lungs to maintain protection.

In other words, the composition of the gut bacteria in those mice, whether acquired naturally or through administration, were able to signal to immune cells to wake up and fight the viral invasion. (This did not occur in the mice without segmented filamentous bacteria.)

Tell me that isn’t cool!

First, that all of those bugs living inside of us communicate with one another. And second, that they’re actually able to locate certain bacterial strains that will fight the good fight against the invader!

This, folks, is just another tip of the iceberg.

I am uncertain as to whether we’ll be able to isolate individual species in the human body that could help fight specific pathogenic invaders. After all, there are so many species in our guts, it’s quite likely many work together—just as our entire body works together as a complete unit.

Because we’re so much more than the sum of our parts. (If only modern medicine can see the sense in that statement!)

So, I’ll end with this: I’ve always explained how important gut health is to overall health.

And fighting viral invaders is clearly no exception.

Getting your gut “back in check” really boils down to better lifestyle habits. Here are four basic rules to follow:

  1. Avoid sugar and processed food.
  2. Fill up on lean protein, healthy fats, lots of fiber-rich veggies, and some seasonal fruit.
  3. Eat prebiotic-rich foods to nourish the probiotic bacteria in the gut.
  4. Take a daily, high-quality probiotic supplement that also contains prebiotics and postbiotics.

For more details about those bugs living inside us—and how to rebalance your gut—check out the May 2023 issue of my monthly Logical Health Alternatives newsletter (“Is the key to healthier aging lurking INSIDE your body?”).

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“Gut microbiota influence severity of respiratory viral infection.” ScienceDaily, 01/30/2024. (