The new type of coronavirus caused by Covid-19 is more than just a disease of the lungs. Recent research indicates that the total bacteria that live in the gut, which often have a beneficial effect on the intestinal flora, may be crucial in terms of who is most vulnerable to Covid-19 disease.
In the case of people at risk, the intestinal flora is “destroyed”
Covid-19 poses the greatest risk to the elderly, the chronically ill (hypertensive patients, diabetics, heart patients, etc.) and obese people. Interestingly, the composition of the intestinal flora differs from that considered healthy even in those with a risk group for contracting Covid-19 even before illness. For example, in their case, the Bacteroides species are relatively small in the intestinal flora. The close relationship between the gut microbiota and the immune system has been scientifically proven, indicating that due to the diversity of intestinal flora, the immune response to coronavirus infection and the results of Covid-19 may differ in elderly and chronic patients, obesity.
There are intestinal bacteria linked to the risk of Covid-19
There have been many studies around the world looking at the genetic sequence of stool samples from Covid-19 patients and healthy individuals, that is, by comparing the intestinal bacteria in the stool, to find out what happens in the gut bacteria after infection with the Coronavirus. The conclusion is clear: under Covid-19, the intestinal flora undergoes remarkable changes.
Some bacteria also allow you to “predict” the course of the coronavirus. The number of Coprobacillus, Clostridium ramosum, and Clostridium hathewayi present in the intestinal flora at the onset of Covid-19 symptoms correlates with the severity of Covid-19; The more of them are found in the intestinal flora / faeces, the more dangerous the Covid-19 virus is.. In contrast, there are also bacteria that have been shown to have a “protective” effect, such as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, whose deficiency may be linked to more serious consequences of Covid-19.
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Covid-19 can cause long-term damage to your gut flora
To make matters worse, the disturbance of the balance of intestinal flora is long-lasting. In many cases, pushing beneficial bacteria back into the background and the spread of pathogens characterize the gut microbiota, even when a patient has already succumbed to Covid-19 and the coronavirus is not present in their body. The last observation, the abnormally altered intestinal flora, may also explain the complaints emerging as part of post-Covid-19 syndrome.
Can intestinal flora be affected “from the outside”?
It seems logical that interventions aimed at changing the intestinal flora in a positive direction could have beneficial outcomes in both the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. This could be the administration of probiotics, or faecal cultures, which are currently being studied.
Nutrition can also have a beneficial effect on the health of the intestinal flora: Eating high-fiber foods and whey products can have the same beneficial effects as eating fruit, vegetables, or cocoa.
Dr. Bodai Mariana PhD.
(1) Zuo T. et al. Alterations in the gut microbiota of patients with Covid-19 during the recovery period. Gastroenterology 2020; 159: 944-955.
(2) Zeppa SD. Et al. The case of enteric flora in Covid-19: an unknown player? Anterior cell infects the microbiol. 2020; 10: 576551.
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