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Gut health and Covid-19

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Gut health can influence health outcomes in those with Covid-19. A new letter to the Health Secretary has urged a closer look at the gut microbiota as a way to help protect us.

Why?

While it’s still early stages, there are three pieces of published evidence worth knowing about.

Gou et al.

Gou et al.

Hanada et al.

Hanada et al.

  1. The gut:lung connection is nothing new. Pre-Covid studies show our lungs and gut microbiota can influence each other (Hanada et al).

  2. Our gut microbiota may predict who will become more severely unwell from Covid-19 in otherwise ‘healthy’ people (swipe left, Gou et al).

  3. Covid-19 patients who report gut symptoms including diarrhoea and nausea were shown to have worse outcomes (Lei et al.).

How?

Our GM (Gut Microbiota, the trillions of microbes we have along our gut) is incredibly powerful and is linked with the health of pretty much every other organ in the body- those microbes do so much for us!

  • Trains our immune system.

  • Communicates with our brain and lungs, as well as other vital organs.

  • Linked with better heart health and lower risk of type 2 diabetes- both risk factors for Covid-19.

That’s not to say having a healthy gut will make us immune, but it does look like better gut health lowers our risk of becoming more severely unwell. And with a vaccine being quite far away, it’s worth thinking about looking after our gut microbes.

Gut health does NOT need to be complicated, restrictive or rely on expensive supplements – simple changes can make a big difference.

  • Go for variety & fill up on fibre. Plant-based diversity is key & fibre is our GM’s favourite food. Aim to get 30 plant points a week, including all 6 plant food groups: fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, legumes, (beans & pulses), nuts & seeds., herbs & spices. Tins of mixed beans in your Bolognese, packs of mixed vege instead of just one type & sprinkles of mixed seeds are easy swaps.
  • Sleep & de-stress. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night & try just 15 mins a day of mindfulness to relax the gut-brain axis.
  • Move your body. Whatever exercise you like, your gut will too – try to move & get your heart rate up for 30 mins most days.
  • Dabble in fermented foods. Kefir, kimchi & sauerkraut are all great options – cost-effective & easy to make at home too!