12 Research-Backed Links Between COVID-19 And Your Gut

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mbg senior sustainability Editor

By Dr.lauryn

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The gut microbiome is emerging as a key player in not only contracting infections, such as COVID-19, but also preventing and overcoming them.

Here’s what we know so far about the gut-immune connection and 12 research-backed links between the gut and COVID-19.

 

Breaking News: Gut Bacteria—A Coronavirus Cause?

Headline: “The 2019 Wuhan (coronavirus) outbreak is caused by the bacteria Prevotella.”

This preliminary study (1), released in late February, is currently under peer-review to make sense of what researchers in China are finding to be a common theme among the thousands of patients who contracted the coronavirus: an overgrowth of gut bacteria associated with pathogenicity in high amounts.

In fact, when researchers compared the amount of Prevotella bacteria to COVID-19 strains in infected patients, they found the individuals had millions of Prevotella, but only a few thousand COVID-19 strains. Previous studies further confirm that pathogenic bacteria like Prevotella are correlated with low levels of healthy gut bacteria and imbalances in immune function (2).

The conclusion? Improve gut health to treat disease.

Interestingly, the same gut bacteria (Prevotella) that researchers found high amounts of in infected patients is actually a common bacteria found in the gut microbiomes of individuals of Asian ethnicity—similar to how Bacteroides bacteria is common in the gut microbiomes of Westerners (3).  This fact possibly points us in the direction that a key mechanism behind COVID-19 may not be the Prevotella bacteria itself, but instead “dysbiosis” or an imbalanced gut microbiome (more on this in a minute).

To further understand how gut bacteria can impact your immune system, it’s vital to understand the gut-immune function.

The Gut Imune Conmnection 101

70 to 80% of your immune system is housed in your gut microbiome—the system often referred to as the gateway to health.

You have about 100 trillion gut bacteria living inside of you—located not only in your digestive tract, but also other microbiomes in your body, including your heart, your liver, your gonadal organs (vagina, testes), your skin and your lungs.

These bacteria are primarily responsible for, you guessed it, balancing and boosting your immune system.

 

How Are You Boosting Your Immune System?

Immune boosting hacks are hot on social media and in the news right now.

  • Elderberry has flown off the shelves.
  • People have loaded up on Vitamin A, Vitamin C and D.
  • You can hardly find Zinc lozenges anywhere in stores. 

What’s in your medicine cabinet at the moment?

Surprisingly, not many people think to add antimicrobial (gut balancing) herbs or probiotics to the stash, despite 70 to 80% of your immune system being housed in your gut. 

Translation: if you have a healthy gut, you have a strong immune system.

 

Understanding Your Gut Immune System

man and woman eating healthy fruits, vegetables

 

Your gut immune system is specifically housed in your GALT or “gut-associated lymphatic tissue” in your intestines. In your GALT, there are many different immune cells including activated T cells, B cells, plasma cells, mast cells, dendritic cells, and macrophages.

Your gut bacteria are responsible for maintaining immune balance and utilizing these immune cells appropriately.

Alternatively, the manipulation of gut microbiota can significantly alter immune homeostasis and function—for the better or the worse (4).

Common disruptors of your gut microbiota that cause immune upheaval include:

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  • Antibiotics
  • Processed food consumption
  • Lack of sleep
  • Over-exercise or sedentary lifestyles
  • Medications
  • Toxic exposures (chemicals in hygiene products, cleaning products, food sources)

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  • Not eating enough
  • Eating the same things every day
  • Lack of fiber or other nutrient deficiencies
  • Poor digestive hygiene (eating too fast, not chewing your food)
  • High caffeine consumption
  • Dehydration

 

Basically: lifestyle and dietary stress alter the microbiome.

[This is why a healthy lifestyle (ie. diet, exercise, sleep) is commonly touted as a sucker punch for chronic diseases—from heart disease to diabetes, kidney disease, autoimmunity, and more. 

Ultimately, the healthier, more balanced and diverse gut bacteria we have in our gut, the healthier and less susceptible we are to viruses.

 

How Viruses Work In the Body

Viruses are non-living infective agents that are ONLY able to multiply within the living cells of a host (animals, humans, plants and bacteria).

So how does COVID-19 spread to your body through the gut?

If the novel coronavirus is actually a virus (as is currently being debated), here’s a brief play-by-play of how viruses work.

Step 1: Attachment

The coronavirus—found in droplets and initially transmitted to humans via sick animals—has spikes on its surface that allow it to attach to receptors (ACE2 enzyme receptors). These receptors are located on the membrane of our cells and bacteria, primarily found in the lungs, heart, kidneys and the entire gastrointestinal tract.

 

Step 2: Hijacking Gut Bacteria + Cells

Once a coronavirus enters a person—thrusting itself through the gut, arteries, heart, kidney, and lungs—it consequently hijacks our body’s living organisms (our gut bacteria and our body cells).

 

Step 3: DNA Disruption

When this happens, the virus completely DISRUPTS the bacteria and cell’s business as usual hardware—your genes or DNA (aka: your body’s instruction manual).

From there, the virus starts trying to overtake and replicate itself inside your genes.

 

Step 4: Writing a New Instruction Manual (In the Body)

The coronavirus is an RNA virus, meaning it brings a totally new set of instructions for your normal DNA. Think of your DNA as an instruction manual or cookbook for your body’s operating system, and RNA as the directions or recipes that go into that cookbook.

Coronavirus begins tearing out your body’s and bacteria’s normal recipes in place of a new set of recipes, which allow illness to occur.

Considering the fact that you have 3.3 MILLION genes in your gut microbiome (compared to only 23,000 genes in your human cell genome—the DNA that determines things like your hair color, bone structure and cancer and Alzheimer’s risk), can you see how this can cause a problem within your gut and consequently your immune system (70-80% which is housed in your gut)? 

Studies have shown that we are at least 20% more sensitive to viral disruption in our gut genome than in our human genome (5).

 

Step 5: May Day! May Day!

Coronavirus uses our bacteria and cells (the “host”), to double—and double and double. All it wants is to spread and replicate. If you don’t have strong DEFENSE mechanisms in place to fight the virus replication, it’s an uphill battle for your body. You could experience:

  • Decreased Oxygen Uptake

The infected bacteria and cells in your gut, lungs, heart, kidneys, and beyond cannot adequately take up oxygen for survival, nor transfer enough oxygen to your blood when you breathe.

  • Feeling Run Down

You know what it feels like to feel sick. Some folks say, “I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck.” Others are fatigued—unable to complete daily activities that typically would feel like no big deal (laundry, grocery shopping, walking up stairs). Others suffer from immune weakness—coughing, sore throat, fever, diarrhea, nausea, appetite loss. As the virus writes its new cookbook, your body feels beat. These symptoms occur in about 80% of the people who experience “mild” cases of COVID-19, who are able to manage the virus at home over the course of 14-28 days.

  • A Cytokine Storm

In some cases (about 15-20% of the population), the virus stirs up a “cytokine storm” (6), TURNING UP the noise in the body’s immune system with an unrelenting fight.The army in this battle are substances called cytokines that fire off a cascade of signals to cells to counter the viral replication—sort of like what happens when you poke a wasp nest and the nest starts raging.

In healthy people, the stronger their body’s immune response, the better they are able to fight and extinguish this rapid fire infection—often just experiencing mild symptoms. As soon as the enemy (viral replication) is defeated, the cytokine army is hard-wired to retreat and quiet down. However, in the case of a weaker immune system, the cytokine storm, the army never retreats. It has no commander in sight. The immune system continues to release cytokines that keep the body in the fight. In their misguided bid to keep the body safe, these cytokines attack multiple organs including the lungs and liver, and may eventually lead to death.

12 Research-Backed Links Between COVID-19 & Your Gut

Now that you have a good idea of how your immune system works and how viruses impact your gut, let’s talk about 12 research-backed links between COVID-19 and your gut.

facts about the links between covid-19 and your gut

 

 

Gut Link 1: Gut Dysbiosis Is Common in All Disease & Illness

Call it COVID-19, diabetes, autoimmune disease, heart disease, cancer, allergies, the flu—a common theme with almost any disease at a microbiome level is dysbiosis (7)—an imbalance of gut bacteria, often characterized by the overgrowth of a pathogenic bacteria and/or a deficiency in healthy bacteria.

It’s important to note that a key finding in over 50% of COVID-19 patients relates to gastrointestinal symptoms (for example, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain), pointing to dysbiosis (8).

In the case of COVID-19, the presence of dysbiosis is highlighted by the high growth of the gut bacteria Prevotella  in the thousands of people infected in Asia (1).

Although microbiome research is currently evolving here in the states, a Colorado State University research team is currently pursuing a vaccine that would halt the novel coronavirus using a genetically modified form of the well-known probiotic Lactobacillus acidophilus—a bacteria commonly ingested in yogurt and other foods for improved gut health—(9).

 

Gut Link 2: COVID-19 Enters the Body through the Gut 

As noted previously, the novel coronavirus  enters the body via ACE2 entry points (10) — enzyme receptors in the lungs, heart, kidneys, and the entire gut (11).

On a good day, ACE2 receptors are beneficial , helping to decrease disease and keep inflammation at bay (12) and keeping pathogenic and foreign invaders out of your system…unless your immune defenses (gut bacteria) are down.

If your gut army  is dysbiotic (out of balance) or low in numbers already, then the ACE2 receptors throughout the various microbiomes  of your body (gut, lungs, heart, kidneys) have no other option than to let the virus force their way in and have very little to say in a strong counter attack.

 

Gut Link 3: Stressed Out Gut Bacteria Release Byproducts That Alter Immune Function (Hello COVID-19!)

Gut bacteria release byproducts called “exosomes”— in the presence of stress—further exacerbating an immune response (13, 14).

Exosomes are found in practically all body fluids, including plasma, saliva, amniotic fluid, mucous membranes, lung tissue, and breast milk—suggesting key roles in immune development and function at different life stages from in utero to aging.

In a healthy state, the patterns and the functions of our gut bacteria are stable. Our gut barrier function is strong and our intestinal tissue maintains its tight integrity; Our detox pathways work appropriately; inflammation is down.

However, under dysbiosis (gut bacteria imbalance) and stressful or pathogenic conditions, exosome levels are increased, exacerbating immune activation and inflammatory reactions.

Enter: type 2 diabetes, autoimmunity, heart disease complications, allergies, and illnesses of all sorts, including COVID-19.

In other words: The more stress our gut bacteria are under, the more likely disease and the side effects from that disease arises. 

How does this happen?

Our gut bacteria exosomes carry TONS of information (proteins, lipids, DNA, and RNA—genetic information). In fact, exosomes are highly involved in the transfer of genetic material—specifically of RNA information—into host cells.

Interestingly, COVID-19 is a known RNA  virus, and the role of bacterial exosomes in the actual presentation and virulence of the disease should be studied further (15, 16).

Perhaps exosomes are actually exacerbating the chronic conditions of so many people worldwide.

 

Gut Link 4: Viruses Spread Through Gut Bacteria & Their Biofilms 

Biofilms are a scientific term for the unbreakable shell that forms around many bacteria to protect them from dying.

Biofilm is what makes recurring bacterial infections seemingly impossible to overcome—such as what occurs with the person you know who always gets a sinus infection or strep throat and is repeatedly on antibiotics. Or the person who cannot seem to get rid of their candida, gas, or bloating, no matter how much kombucha they drink or how healthily they eat.In the case of a viral infection—such as COVID-19—the fast-replicating virus forces gut bacteria to retreat and form biofilms—strong “armor” shells around the bacteria itself, further triggering a dysbiotic gut (17).

These biofilms are also what may make COVID-19 so transmissible  through germs, surfaces, and air. A few key feature of biofilms include 1) their ability to adhere to surfaces (from apples at the grocery store to your Amazon cardboard box delivery);  2) their ability to protect bacteria from destruction; and 3) their ability to increase resistance to antibiotics, medications, and supplements.

Biofilms are not just exclusive to gut bacteria either. V— viruses themselves can also take residence inside these biofilms—further complicating the pathogenicity and virulence of infection in patients.

For example, Cystic Fibrosis (CF)—known as a chronic lung disease —is connected to Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacterial infections, which are cased in biofilm (18). When infecting the lung of these patients, the Pseudomonas   bacteria undergoes a transition from an acute virulent pathogen to an adapted pathogen  within biofilm, allowing it to persist in the lung for years or even decades. Add in a virus exposure to the mix (like the flu or COVID-19) and the CF patient’s immune system goes haywire—triggering exacerbation  of lung disease (19).

In short: bacteria + biofilm + virus=a really sticky situation, one that is hard to overcome.

Aside from viral infections, other common causes of biofilm formation (20) include:

  • Repeat antibiotic exposure
  • (poor-quality diet, lack of water, chronic stress)
  • Substance abuse
  • Low fiber in the diet
  • Circadian rhythm disruption (looking at screens late at night; under-sleeping)
  • Environmental disturbances (high EMF exposure, mold/mycotoxins in the home)

 

Gut Link 5: Current Treatments for COVID-19 Ironically Also Support the Gut

man touching his tummy, covid-19 gut connection

 

Some of the “leading”  drugs and supplements thus far that have proved to be effective in mitigating COVID-19 symptoms all hold a link to the gut.

In the medication world, hydroxychloroquine in conjunction with an antibiotic (21)  have been touted and trialed with moderately positive results.

Hydroxychloroquine itself is an anti-parasitic  drug, best known for treating malaria and in some cases Lyme—two diseases correlated with a dramatic shift in the microbiome itself. Z-packs (antibiotics) also target bacteria in the case of illness and pathogenicity, once again stemming from the gut.

Alinia (22)—another anti-parasitic drug often used to treat gut parasites—has also yielded positive results for COVID-19.

On the supplement side of things, anecdotal and clinical reports both from China and the United States reveal that some of the top picks of the moment for fighting COVID-19 appear to be: probiotics, vitamin C, colostrum, zinc, astragalus, garlic, melatonin, glutathione, propolis (honey byproduct) , licorice, and artemesia—a natural anti-parasitic treatment. All of these agents are often used in treating overt gut imbalances and gut conditions (23, 24).

As previously notesd, researchers out of Colorado State University are currently running trials in treating COVID-19 positive samples with Lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic bacteria commonly ingested in yogurt and other foods for gut health. This bacteria thrives exactly where the new coronavirus drives its spike to invade the body: the mucous membrane (44). Thus far, the researchers have discovered that the probiotic shows promise for balancing immunity and preventing the fusion of virus and host cells.

Moreover, a high intake of vitamin  C—highly touted as a game-changing treatment in Wuhan’s outbreak and flying off shelves here in the U.S.—restores an inflamed, leaky gut  (25). Additionally, increased melatonin—a hormone that regulates our sleep-wake cycle—in supplement form  is also linked to a decrease of inflammation and pathogenicity in the gut (26, 27).

 

Gut Link 6: COVID-19 Is Detected in Stool Testing

Stool testing is gradually becoming a marker and testing measure of COVID-19—able to detect the virus for up to 5 to 6 weeks after infection, even after symptoms have faded. This suggests that a vast majority of the virus is at least impacting the gut, if not the gut driving the virus itself (28).

Some theories also speculate the transmission of COVID-19 via hands and surfaces may occur through fecal-oral transmission, making a case for hand washing after you go to the bathroom all the more strong (29).

Other theories on the stool manifestation of the disease wonder if those patients who have no overt symptoms may actually be housing the virus primarily in their gut microbiome—instead of in the lungs—and shedding the virus in the stool. Studies show upwards of 1 in 4 patients with COVID-19 continue to test positive from their stool samples for weeks after showing negative results in respiratory samples (28, 30).

Why are so many nasal test kits for COVID-19 coming back negative? Upwards of 80% are inaccurate, despite individuals clearly presenting with symptoms (42).  Is it because we have a faulty test? Or are the test kits not looking at the whole picture?

 

Gut Link 7: Nearly 100% of COVID-19 Patients ALSO Have Gut-Related Underlying Conditions 

man with asthma covering his nose with napkin, covid-19

 

Who’s most at risk  for COVID-19?

People with pre-existing  health conditions: obesity, heart disease, immunocompromised symptoms, kidney disease, lung disease, and asthma.

Considering that over 1 in 2 Americans (31) have a gut-related chronic disease condition (a disease or illness connected to a pathogen or imbalance such as SIBO , dysbiosis, candida, or a parasite in the gut microbiome), the gut-COVID connection clearly screams: the healthier your gut is, the healthier and less at risk you are to succumb to the virulence of COVID-19.

An ICNARC report from London (32) examining the demographics of those patients who required critical care reveals that over 60% of patients were also suffering from being overweight/obese and chronic inflammation.

If you understand the weight-gut connection, you’ll know that being overweight or obese does not necessarily just happen because a person is lazy or binge eats Ding Dongs. In fact, often times folks who are overweight are eating a normal calorie diet or under-eating. Instead, the gut-metabolism connection strongly suggests that the state of your gut microbiome influences your weight and metabolic rate (33, 34).

For example, in a study of identical twins where one twin was lean and the other was overweight, researchers transplanted gut bacteria from obese or lean mice into the twins’ microbiomes. The lean twin gained weight and the fat twin lost weight—with no other dietary or exercise intervention (35).

Your gut bugs matter for all diseases—including for those of us who do all the right healthy things  but still suffer from autoimmunity, mold illness, Lyme disease, thyroid disease, and other chronic conditions. Look to your gut health.

 

Gut Link 8: Fever & Shortness of Breath are Inflammatory Responses (that Start in the Gut)

A fever is an inflammatory response that extends beyond the site of infection and affects the entire body, resulting in an overall increase in body temperature. Body temperature is normally regulated and maintained by your hypothalamus, a part of the brain that functions to maintain balance (homeostasis) in the body.

However, microbiome inflammation can result in the production of pyrogens , chemicals that alter thethermostat setting” of the hypothalamus, elevating body temperature and causing fever. 

For instance,  lipopolysaccharide (LPS)—an endotoxin produced by pathogenic bacteria and associated with a “leaky gut”— is also a pyrogen that can cause your white blood cells to release pyrogens throughout your entire body[such as interleukin-1 interferon-γ, and tumor necrosis factor].

These molecules then trigger your hypothalamus to spike a fever.

In addition, some studies suggest that fever may also stimulate release of iron-sequestering compounds from the liver, thereby starving out microbes that rely on iron for growth. This would cause an anemia-like response from the host itself, resulting in shortness of breath.

Lastly, important to note: chest pain or respiratory distress? It could actually be a histamine response.

Histamine is an organic nitrogenous compound involved in the inflammatory immune response. It regulates the physiological function in the gut and acts as a neurotransmitter for the brain, spinal cord, and uterus. 

This means that when your gut and immune system are under stress, your body releases higher levels of circulating histamine to counter the attacks. One of the chief symptoms of this situation is obstruction of the respiratory passages, and this is usually attributed to constriction of the lungs. Your primary histamine “point”  in your body is located on both sides of your upper sternum—in your chest. Often times idiopathic chest pain —chest pain not related to a heart attack—is actually high levels of circulating histamine in the body (52).

 

Gut Link 9: Viruses Take a Toll on Our Liver (a Key Accessory Organ for Gut Health)

The liver is the primary organ where viruses like to hide—hijacking its role in your immune health.

As a refresher, your liver is your body’s the primary detoxification organ. It plays a critical role in elimination and maintaining a healthy microbiome.

The liver is the MAIN portal for foreign invaders (like viruses and pathogenic bacteria) to set up shop.

Thankfully, you have defenders—white blood cells and lymphocytes (immune cells)—located throughout your liver’s arteries, veins, and the gallbladder’s bile ducts. These immune-boosting cells help fight infections and work to stop viruses, bacteria, and pesticides and other toxins from reaching the liver. However, the MORE toxins that are coming in, the harder it is for your white blood cells to keep up.

Couple viruses or pathogenic bacteria with even more toxins and inflammation for the liver to process, and voila: the perfect storm for viruses or illness to take over.

If people are eating inflammatory diets (even so-called healthy  diets, be they plant-based, keto, or carnivore, they may not be ideal for meeting individual needs), or if their guts are crowded with lots of inflammation (from pesticides, artificial sweeteners, and additives, or from toxins in cleaning, hygiene, and skin products) then this further taxes the liver, preventing it from eradicating pathogens and toxins.

 

Gut Link 10: Loss of Taste & Smell (Common in COVID-19) Is Connected to the Nasal Microbiome

Almost 60% of patients who test positive for COVID-19 have reported losing their sense of smell and taste (53).

The latest study did not reveal or test why this is the case, but an understanding of the connection between the gut microbiome and our taste and smell sheds light on it.

The vast majority of our bacteria in our body belong in the gu t microbiome, not necessarily overcrowded in the nose. However, studies show that people with more   in their nose (more bacterial growth) have lowered senses of smell and taste.

In one study  (54), researchers recruited 67 adults who met the following criteria:

(1) They did not consume antibiotics/probiotics within the last month.

(2) They did not have respiratory disorders like hay fever, pollen allergies, common cold or nasal polyps.

(3) They did not have any psychiatric or neurologic diseases.

Among the 67 volunteers, 29 were normosmic (had a normal sense of smell), 10 were hyposmic (had a reduced sense of smell), and 28 were anosmic (had a loss of smell).

Upon evaluation, researchers found that reduced smell  individuals have a higher nasal microbiome diversity, enriched with several butyrate-producing bacteria found in the gut and mouth, including Faecalibacterium, Enterobacteriaceae, and Lachnospiraceae, which typically belong in the gut, and Porphyromonas, a species normally found in the mouth.

The researchers concluded that the butyrate production — which normally benefits the gut and mouth — was out of place in the nasal microbiome, most likely due to gut dysbiosis.

As for loss of taste sensations, taste receptors (TRs) are found throughout the gastrointestinal tract, where they are involved in modulating metabolic processes and gastrointestinal function.

These taste receptors are involved in the modulation of inflammatory processes in the respiratory tract— detecting and responding to bacteria and bacterial signaling-molecules and initiating protective responses (55). Your taste receptors tell you what foods sound appetizing to your bacteria. However if inflammation overwhelms the GI tract or your healthy gut bug army is knocked out, then your taste receptors can’t keep up. They poop out. Hello loss of taste.

There’s no better population to study for this phenomenon than those with anorexia (56, 57)—characterized by loss of appetite and an affinity for bland, tasteless foods or odd combinations of foods (for example, dry iceberg lettuce salads, raw carrots, dry chicken breast, copious amounts of diet soda). Individuals with anorexia coincidentally also have highly dysbiotic gut microbiomes that tend to drive their odd food behaviors and taste perceptions.

In other words: an imbalanced gut equals imbalances in the sensory system.

 

Gut Link 11: Type A Blood Types Are More Affected  By COVID-19 (Possibly Thanks to their Gut Bacteria)

Different blood types are susceptible to different diseases.

A preliminary report, under peer-review (58), has found that people with the type A blood type are the most at risk group for developing COVID-19—encouraging further investigation in the relationship between the ABO blood group and COVID-19 susceptibility.

Why would this be?

Certain bacteria microbes have a greater or lesser affinity for the different blood type antigens.  A-type blood, for example, is particularly appealing to certain bacteria, whereas B-type blood is appealing to other bacteria, etc.  (59). H.pylori  and some pathogenic bacteria and viruses use A, B and O blood-type group antigens as adhesion sites. Certain healthy bacteria,  like Lactobacillus , do as well.

In general, people with type-A blood show a higher affinity for attracting more bacteria and an overall higher susceptibility to developing dysbiosis in the gut and impaired immune function  (60, 61, 62).

Also important to note is that, since many gut bacteria are anaerobic—bacteria that thrive upon a lack of oxygen—when they are overgrown or dysbiotic in nature, lack of oxygen is what keeps them alive. (Hello air hunger and shortness of breath).

 

Gut Link 12: People with Healthier Microbiomes Appear to Be Protected from COVID-19

Who doesn’t appear to get sick from the virus?

Pregnant women, kids, and 104-year-olds.

On the pregnant front, pregnancy is defined by dramatic shifts and the strong shaping (36) and developing of the gut microbiome in order to establish a healthy gut microbiome in the baby itself. With more gut defenders on their side, pregnant women may have some unseen forces working for them.

As for youth, generally speaking, the younger you are, the healthier your gut and the stronger your gut microbiome—essentially the less wear and tear from outside forces that come as our bodies age. However, this does come with a caveat and question you may be asking yourself…

 

Why Are More Young People Getting Coronavirus & the Cytokine Storm?

In the States, we are seeing more and more young people between the ages of 20 to 40 (the millennials) leading a vast majority of positive cases.

How can this be? The answer is that age does NOT always equal health—especially considering the most recent Chronic Disease Report in America released by BlueCross BlueShield this past year, revealing that millennials are unhealthier than their parents’ generation. (37)

The crazy thing: obesity, heart disease, and diabetes are not the only chronic conditions affecting this generation. Mental and behavioral health leads the way (anxiety, depression, and substance abuse including smoking and alcohol use). And guess where mental and behavioral health diseases originate? The gut—through a little  connection called the brain-gut axis (38).

This is also perhaps why a 102-year-old woman and 104-year-old man contracted the illness and survived, whereas many 20 and 30-year-olds do not fare as well (39, 40). Ridiculously healthy elderly folks may have the same (or better biomes) than the young’uns (41).

In light of these observations, further microbiome testing is warranted to truly understand why certain patients seem to fare better than others. Based upon Wuhan, China’s findings of the overgrowth of Prevotella  bacterial species in COVID-19 patients, we may see similar parallels with different bacterial species in Italian, Spanish, Australian, and United States’ stools.

 

Strengthen Your Gut

COVID-19 is complicated at the moment…. But not that complicated.

Although viruses and illnesses do not necessarily discriminate (COVID-19 can seemingly affect a person with 5 diseases, a fitness guru who drinks green juice every day, or a healthy vibrant 10-year-old child), if and when your body is healthy and your body’s immune defenses are strong, then you are better able to fight any pathogens that come your way.

How to strengthen your defenses?

It starts in your gut.

While social distancing and mask-wearing are great for helping you mitigate or slow down the spread of COVID-19, they are not curing it or boosting your ability to fight the illness.

Instead, when you focus on strengthening your gut, you’re better able to march into any immune battle and put up a good fight against the cytokine storm.

So how do you actually strengthen your gut?

Check out this article for 10 clinically-tested gut hacks to improve your gut health.

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