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UK government urged to evaluate role of gut microbiome in coronovirus

2 min read

As reported in the Daily Mail recently, more than 120 of the UK's most prominent scientists have written to the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, asking him to investigate the link between the gut microbiome and coronovirus, citing a growing body of compelling research that puts those with poor gut health at higher risk of suffering severe COVID-19.

Inflammation and lower immunity linked with unhealthy gut

Research has repeatedly linked inflammation and lower immunity with an unhealthy gut microbiome, and both of these also play in role in the severity of the disease.

COVID-19 is particularly dangerous for people with weakened immune systems that are unable to fight back against the virus - the gut microbiome and diet are linked to immune system function.

Heart health and a lowered risk of developing diabetes are also linked to a health microbiome - both cardiovascular health and diabetes are risk factors for COVID-19. 

There is also growing evidence that people with risk factors linked to inflammation - also linked with an unhealthy gut microbiome - may have worse outcomes if they contract COVID-19.

In light of that fact that the formulation of a vaccine for the coronovirus is still a long way off, academics are appealing to the government to assess the microbiome link and consider promoting a balanced diet as a way to protect against COVID-19. 

Research is compelling

The initial statement, authored by professor Glenn Gibson and Dr Gemma Watson from the university of Reading together with Dr Kirsty Hunter of Nottingham Trent University called for "attention to be given to emerging but convincing evidence that gut health may be related to COVID-19."

"The research is compelling, earlier this year we started seeing papers coming out of China suggesting a link between human response to COVID-19 in our lung/respiratory tract and the state of the gut microbiome (which in turn can be modulated by diet and improved by probiotic and prebiotic approaches)."

'The evidence has since grown, with more research ongoing, which is why we strongly recommend that the Government and their scientific advisers evaluate this further.'

The letter was sent on behalf of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Human Microbiome.

A healthy gut is achieved through eating a balanced and varied diet rich in leafy vegetables and fruit, and eating enough probiotics and prebiotics - which stimulate 'good' gut bacteria that keep the digestive system healthy, according to the scientists.

Role of probiotics and prebiotics

The statement issued by the APGG highlights the role of probiotics and prebiotics with references to their efficacy in reducing the incidence and duration of common upper respiratory tract infections.

"Some probiotics and prebiotics work be regulating immunity, including anti-inflammatory properties. Other mechanisms of effect include enhancement of the intestinal epithelial barrier competition with pathogens, acidification of the gut and adhesion to the intestinal epithelium."

"At the present time, it is the case that no probiotics nor prebiotics have been shown to manage the symptoms of COVID-19, and research is ongoing."

A healthy balanced diet is the best way to consume all the nutrients we need. Sometimes however this isn't possible and then supplements can help. This article isn't intended to replace medical advice. Please consult your healthcare professional before trying any supplements or herbal medicines.