Updated: Apr 12, 2021
“All diseases begin in the gut”-Hippocrates
In January 2021, Dr Heenam, Ph.D from Korea University's Lab for Human -Microbial in Seoul observed that there is a clear connection between poor gut health and Severe COVID-19.
Our gut is resident to over 100 trillion good bacteria which help digest food in the large intestines and prevent the growth of disease causing 'bad bacteria'. The good bacteria digest food in the right colon and in the process produce satchin fatty acids which are critical to our immune system.
External factors like excessive use of antibiotics, pain killers, poor diets (without fiber), alcohol, stress and age all deplete the good bacteria in out gut leading to an over growth of disease-causing bacteria. Many recent studies have found that reduced bacterial diversity in gut samples collected from COVID-19 patients, compared to samples from healthy people. The disease has also been linked to a depletion of beneficial bacterial species – and the enrichment of pathogenic ones. A similar imbalance has been associated with influenza A infection, though the 2 viruses differ in how they change the overall microbial composition.
Kim said he started analysing the studies after realizing that wealthy countries with a good medical infrastructure — including the United States and nations in Western Europe — were among the hardest hit by the virus. The “western diet” that’s common in these countries is low in fiber, and “a fiber-deficient diet is one of the main causes of poor gut health,” he said, “and such an imbalance between good and bad bacteria leads to chronic diseases.”
Probiotics are live microorganisms that are intended to have health benefits when consumed or applied to the body. They can be found in fermented foods and dietary supplements. From Dr Kim study, it is now apparent that it is better to take probiotics than vitamins as a way to prevent severe COVID-19. Regular diet with a lot of fiber will help the growth of the good bacteria in your gut. Gut bacteria feed on fiber to thrive in our guts. Processed foods and fast foods which have a lot of sugar with no fiber contribute to the growth of disease-causing bacteria in our bodies.
There are over 7000 strains of good bacteria which over time is depleted. “The whole world is suffering from this COVID-19 pandemic,” Kim said, “but what people do not realize is that the pandemic of damaged gut microbiomes is far more serious now.” In fact, poor gut health is connected to many other health conditions in our modern society. This recent discovery in the medical research has led to increased research in gut microbiome and is the current new frontier in how doctors will manage disease in the future.
One of the challenges of the modern man is the poor diet available due to our fast life styles. Currently, probiotic dietary supplements are the best alternatives in bridging the gap occasioned by our poor diets. Back in the olden days our grand parents would ferment foods which gave them very strong immunity. In fact, almost all ancient cultures had their probiotics in their daily meals like Japanese Kimchi fermented vegetables or India's Enduri Pitha which are conspicuously missing in the modern man's diet.
Reference: “Do an Altered Gut Microbiota and an Associated Leaky Gut Affect COVID-19 Severity?” by Heenam Stanley Kim, 12 January 2021, mBio. DOI: 10.1128/mBio.03022-20
Author: Martin M, Nutraceutical specialist, founder of the online supplements store; www.afyashop.co.ke