Earlier this month, Reuters published a roundup of studies on COVID-19 that focused on risk factors, treatment options, and other issues. The top headline of the article focuses on how gut health affects COVID-19 severity and immune response.
More specifically, a two-hospital study of 100 patients found that gut microbiome composition was significantly altered in COVID-19 patients, who lacked the good bacteria that regulate the immune system.
These findings suggest that an abnormal assortment of gut bacteria, or dysbiosis, can cause inflammation and affect the body’s immune response, resulting in severe symptoms that last long after the patient has “recovered” from COVID-19. Researchers highlight the need to better understand how microorganisms living in your intestines are involved in inflammation and COVID-19.
I encourage everyone to read this article. I’m glad this information is out there. Of course, Dr. Coetzee and I have been talking for decades about how the gut microbiome has a direct impact on an individual’s health.
The gut microbiome is comprised of trillions of microbes, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi, that live in the intestines. There are more than 1,000 species of bacteria, which are the most researched of these microbes. In fact, the human body has more bacteria cells than human cells.
You have good bacteria and bad bacteria living inside your gut. This is where 70 percent of immune function originates. An imbalanced gut microbiome can increase the risk of not only COVID-19, but heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s.
Well, this will sound familiar to regular readers of my blog and those who have attended one of my educational presentations. Imbalance is caused by inflammatory, toxic foods. Generally, if you get it from a box, a can, or a drive-thru, it’s probably not good for you.
Poorly regulated intestinal permeability, which refers to how the passage of nutrients, toxins, and other materials from the gastrointestinal tract to the bloodstream is controlled, is caused by imbalances in the gut. When this happens, harmful microbes enter the bloodstream undigested, causing the immune system to go into overdrive and eventually crash. This can lead to a wide range of health problems
Imbalance in the gut is also caused by alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, and stress. You’ve probably experienced pain or discomfort in your belly when you felt anxious, nervous, or stressed. That’s because there’s a direct link between the brain and the gut. Many clinicians, especially those who practice functional medicine, refer to the gut as the second brain.
Most people think of the gut as a 40-foot tube in their belly. Food goes in one end and out the other. If you poop once a day, you assume everything is fine. You don’t even think about the intestines until you experience pain.
In reality, the gut is a very complex part of the body where your immune system lives. Regardless of your state of health, building a strong body begins with optimizing gut health and immune function. And every individual should be doing things consciously each day to build a balanced gut microbiome.
This involves addressing the risk factors mentioned previously by:
There are also tests that can measure gut health and how imbalanced your gut microbiome is so we can recommend what steps should be taken to restore and maintain proper balance.
These steps will not be the same for everyone. Bio-individuality states that every individual has unique body chemistry and genetic structure. This means, for example, that two people with the same condition could very well respond differently to the same dietary protocols.
The Reuters article is very informative and valuable, but it’s not earth-shattering to people who study the gut microbiome and follow the functional medicine model.
If you’re ready to become educated about your gut microbiome and take control of your health instead of outsourcing the responsibility to medical doctors, schedule a complimentary consultation at Natural Healthcare Center. Let’s have a very frank discussion about your health and any problems you might be experiencing. Let’s discuss how we evaluate gut health and what you can do proactively to restore and maintain balance.
This is the first step if you want to feel better, function better, and live longer.