A recent study explored the links between the gut microbiome and Covid-19. The findings suggest that the composition of a person's microbiome at the time of infection could impact whether they will experience long COVID.
Our gut microbiome is home to trillions of microorganisms, including more than 1,000 species of bacteria. It plays an important role in keeping us healthy.
The bacteria in our gut can be good for our health, it helps to digest food and possibly reduce the chances of developing certain diseases. But there are bacteria that do the opposite to supporting our health. Researchers have discovered that some bacteria contribute to the development of certain cancers, obesity and even impact mental health.
Our microbiome is unique to each of us, no two people will have an identical gut microbiome. However, there are particular bacteria that everyone should have. The study used this as a basis to work from. Researchers from the Department of Microbiology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong collected blood and stool samples from 100 patients who tested positive for SARS-COV-2 between February and May 2020 from 2 local hospitals. They compared data collected from the COVID patients to data collected from 78 participants prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.
The study showed patients infected with COVID-19 had higher numbers of certain bacteria, including Ruminococcus gnavus, Ruminococcus torques, and Bacteroides dorei. R. gnavus, for example, is a bacterium associated with inflammatory bowel disease. They also recorded reduced numbers of other bacteria species than those without the virus. They had lower counts of good bacteria that have "immunomodulatory potential"
In addition, researchers found elevated cytokine levels in participants with the virus. Cytokines are vital for cellular communication; the immune system produces inflammatory cytokines in response to viral infections. It was noted that the body’s inflammatory response can be “overaggressive” during COVID-19 causing a cytokine storm. This can lead to organ failure, septic shock, and widespread tissue damage.
Conclusion: “Associations between gut microbiota composition, levels of cytokines, and inflammatory markers in patients with COVID-19 suggest that the gut microbiome is involved in the magnitude of COVID-19 severity possibly via modulating host immune responses.”
It might be worth boosting our gut microbiome with fermented foods. Fermented foods are known for their immune-boosting quality in the gut. It's another layer of protection for your defence kit. The worst it can do is help improve your digestion and spice up your meals.