The American Society for Microbiology announces in a press release that it has reviewed the Evidence suggesting poor gut health negatively impacts COVID-19 prognosis. It is very common for severe cases to include gastrointestinal symptoms, and associated illnesses are linked to an alteration in the gut microbiota. If poor gut health is shown to cause severe coronavirus, probiotic treatments and other therapies could help these patients, experts say.
Poor gut health could be responsible for serious cases
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According to this statement dated January 12, COVID-19 infection generates very different symptoms and of varying severity. The most reported are high fever and difficulty breathing. However, some studies, including autopsies, reveal that the infection can also affect the kidneys, liver, spleen, heart, and gastrointestinal tract.
Hospitalized patients with breathing problems as well as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are very common. This suggests that When the virus affects the gastrointestinal tract, the severity of the disease increases.
How does this relate to severe cases of COVID-19?
Heenam Stanley Kim, a microbiologist at the Microbial Interactions Laboratory at Korea University in Seoul, set out to investigate the link between the altered gut microbiome and severe COVID-19.
The hypothesis is that intestinal dysfunction, as well as the associated leaky gut, can worsen the infection because The y allow the virus to access the surface of the digestive tract and internal organs.
The se organs would be vulnerable to infection because they have generalized ACE2, a target protein of SARS-CoV-2, on their surface. People most at risk of severe COVID-19 have altered gut microbiota. The se are the elderly and those with underlying illnesses.
The imbalance could affect the intestinal barrier, allowing pathogens to access cells more easily of the intestinal mucosa. The microbiologist, who is also a professor at Seoul University, said he started analyzing those studies after he linked the diets of the worst-affected countries.
Rich countries with good medical infrastructure, such as the United States and some countries in Europe, have been the most infected. One of the main causes of changes in gut microbiomes is the “western” diet that is deficient in fiber.
What’s the proof?
While the relationship between gut health and the worsening of the coronavirus not yet proven, the studies carried out and the opinion of several researchers suggest that this could be demonstrated.
Some authors believe unhealthy gut microbiomes could be one of the reasons why some people develop a severe form of COVID-19.
A Singapore study of cases of symptomatic patients showed that about half had a detectable level on testing and only half had gastrointestinal symptoms. This suggests that if SARS-CoV-2 reaches the gastrointestinal tract, it may not cause problems.
What Kim said is that, at the time of infection, the person’s gut health can be a critical factor for the development of symptoms.
In one study, stool samples taken from infected patients were compared and compared with those from healthy people. What was found is that in all people with COVID-19, bacterial diversity was very low.
Scientists have already linked the coronavirus to depletion of beneficial bacteria species, while pathogens proliferate. Some of these species that are depleted are those that produce butyrate, which plays a fundamental role in gut health.
Forecast in the future
The pathogenesis of COVID-19 is not yet fully understood. If future studies show that gut health affects the prognosis of COVID-19, Kim argued, then clinicians and researchers should use this link to improve prevention strategies and control the disease. Eating more fiber has been said to reduce the risk of serious illness. And fecal microbiota transplantation may be a treatment to consider for patients with the worst cases of COVID-19.
However, the gut health issue goes beyond COVID-19, he said. Once the pandemic has passed, the world will still have to deal with chronic diseases and other related problems with poor intestinal health. “ The whole world is suffering from this COVID-19 pandemic,” Kim said, “but what people don’t realize is that the damaged gut microbiome pandemic is much more serious now.”
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