By Dietitian Jill
Well, THIS pressed my plastic-shielded N95-ed face flatly against a scraggy sign that shouted “no entry without a mask”. An American Society of Microbiology online article all but affirmed that poor gut health means worse COVID-19 outcomes.
I just knew it! My intuitive senses have been tingling for days. At 75 (I HATE to bring myself up yet again but I’m gonna … ), I’m still working in the trenches (here’s me reluctantly being fitted for my N95).
OMG … I look like a spaceman! But I’ve been totally fine since all this started. I shop in person and go to work in places where there are active cases.
I think I had COVID a year ago (we hadn’t yet heard about it). And haven’t tested positive (I test weekly) … ever! So much for the six-month moratorium on antibodies I’ve been reading about.
I’m still … like everyone else … plodding through the desolation of isolation (the cat helps). And cooking Paleo almost daily … I only break down occasionally and order take-out … I HATE it! And miss restaurants and hanging out with friends over an omelet or good glass of wine.
But I take my supplements and Dietitian Jill’s Immune Tonic (plus Vitamin C) … a little immune-boosting concoction I threw together at the beginning of all this … daily. And they must being working …
All that gut healing has probably kept me safe and sane. I’m not sure … no one really knows. But … with this article … I’m more than hopeful …
And Now Back to …
According to Harvard Medical School, “We all have some degree of leaky gut.” 50 million Americans (and growing) also have autoimmune disease, which is leaky gut on steroids. There are over 80 types identified (and growing).
So when it was unclear why some people have severe COVID cases and some don’t, even with all the risk factors, I began to wonder if leaky gut was at the heart of it.
We have the worst health, more obesity, and more nutrient deficiencies than any other country in the world. Any of those can trigger a worse outcome for COVID.
But this article strongly suggests (it also calls for … as many do … more research) that a leaky gut (or microbiota dysbiosis … the scientific way to describe it) causes worse COVID symptoms.
This diagram … straight from the article … complicatedly explains what’s going on here. We know that the primary infection of COVID is in the lungs (over to the left). But the red arrow points also to the “GI tract” … AKA the gut.
The gut blow-up is in the center. A healthy gut has a mucosal layer (the tan stuff) that blocks COVID (the little red circles). What it DOESN’T show is that there are also things BETWEEN the cells called “tight junctions”.
I describe them as little coffee filters that allow in things we need … like nutrients and other stuff. And filter out stuff that shouldn’t go through … like toxins and what I call the “Yeastie Beasties” … yeasts, molds and other bad things.The immune system is one cell below the gut.Click To Tweet And you’ll notice in the diagram that … even though stuff gets through … it’s easily blocked by the immune system.
Not so the leaky gut (on top). The mucosal layer is all but destroyed … and the tight junctions loosen … allowing COVID and what they call “opportunistic pathogens” (i.e. the Yeastie Beasties) to leak in.
What results are GI symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Not only that, the virus has unfettered access … through the blood stream (below the immune system) … to other organs like the heart, kidneys, liver, and brain.
Not to mention the resulting inflammation which tires out the immune system as it tries to mop up all this mess. Which leaves the body increasingly unable to fight the virus.
The Conclusion …
The article concludes …
A strong pattern has emerged from patients with severe COVID-19, as many of them are either elderly or have certain underlying medical conditions which may be associated with an altered gut microbiota … Such dysbiosis of the gut microbiota may be associated with disrupted gut barrier integrity, which may allow SARS-CoV-2 to gain access to the otherwise well-protected enterocytes and to circulate and infect internal organs … If this is what is happening in the serious cases of this illness that present extrapulmonary multiorgan dysfunction, testing for a leaky gut and fecal and plasma viral loads will be of high value for a more accurate prognosis, particularly for those likely to have altered gut microbiotas. Furthermore, fecal viral load data can also be useful for informing transmission precautions, because some patients may have prolonged fecal shedding of the virus even after viral clearance in the respiratory tract.
WOW … what a mouthful! Translation …leaky gut may allow COVID to circulate in the bloodstream, affecting other organs and leading to worse outcomes.Click To Tweet
So testing for leaky gut may be a good way to determine the severity of these outcomes in infected patients. Makes sense to me … as I am the Good Gut Queen healing guts one at a time!
Good Gut Queen to the Rescue
As you can see, I’ve been talking about healing guts for years. As I not only had a leaky one myself. But it only makes sense that … if up to 80% of us have one … that it’s time to do something about it.
So I invite you to try my “Heal Your Gut Diet” below. I’ve updated and enlarged it and the result will soon be on sale for a tiny amount. As well as a little “Is Your Gut Good?” checklist to see how yours is.Healing systems (not systems) may take a long time depending upon how bad your gut is. But ... for now ... why don't you start with fermented foods.Click To Tweet
I do Dairy Free … so I’m eating coconut yogurt with active cultures. But other fermented foods include sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented vegetables, kefir (I make my own coconut water kefir), miso, or kombucha. A forkful a day keeps dis-ease away.
I can’t think of a better time to start! Yeah … still wear the mask, stay away, get tested, get the shot … yadda yadda.
But starting down the path to health can also have a calming effect upon you (and don’t we need that now!). And who knows where the path will lead!