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The Gut Microbiome Covid 19 Connection

Recent ongoing research has shown that the gut microbiome that consists of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in our gastrointestinal tract is intimately involved in our immune system and our overall health. The latest research shows that a person’s risk for severe COVID -19 may depend on the health of one’s gut, microbiome, and thus immune health.

In the spring of 2020, researchers in Hong Kong collected stool samples from 87 people and compared the trillions of bacteria in the samples, which make up a person’s microbiome, to the microbiomes of healthy people and found that the people with COVID-19 had quite an imbalance of bacteria in the comparison.  Blood samples of the COVID-19 people also showed inflammatory markers that have been associated with a hyperactive immune system and correlated to microbiome imbalances in other studies.  This hyperactive immune response can lead to the much-feared cytokine storm that has been seen in people with severe COVID 19 requiring ICU care and multi-organ failure.  These researchers also suspect that the imbalanced microbiome likely contributes to the fatigue, “brain fog”, and depression that “long haulers” suffer after the initial infection and that continues for months afterward.

As there were no samples of the microbiome before the people studied got COVID it is difficult to say how much effect the virus had in changing the baseline microbiome. It is known however, that certain bacteria and microbiome patterns are found in people that have certain chronic conditions like diabetes and obesity both of which increase the chance for more severe Covid 19.

In Korea, researchers hypothesized that when aggressive pro inflammatory bacteria in altered imbalanced microbiomes can lead to a breakdown of the gut lining causing intestinal permeability or leaky gut. Bacteria and viruses could cross into the bloodstream or the SARS COV 2 virus could cross into the intestines, which have a high concentration of the ACE2 receptors. 70% of the immune system resides in the gut and a damaged gut lining the SARS COV-2 virus could more easily interact with the immune cells and travel more easily in the bloodstream to the liver, kidney, and brain.

The microbiome is altered in people with inflammatory bowel disease and these people have increased risk for COVID-19. It may be a combination of factors such as their altered pro inflammatory microbiome, the leaky gut, or the fact that most are on immunosuppressants like steroids or other immune modifying medications so their immune system is suppressed.  Interestingly they also tend to have less severe COVID-19 perhaps due to the immune suppressants likely preventing a full-blown cytokine storm inflammatory reaction.

We improve the immune response especially in inflammatory bowel disease by removing inflammatory inducing foods such as processed foods, rebalancing the microbiome by inoculation with Probio 350 or ProBio Plus, and repairing the gut barrier with Biotransform. By balancing the microbiome to tilt towards a predominance of anti-inflammatory, gentler microbes and maintaining a healthy gut lining, chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes and autoimmune disease can be avoided or improved. These chronic conditions, especially obesity and diabetes have recently been shown to be the main risks for severe COVID 19 infection. Increasing fiber with a product like Fiber 365 also helps increase short chain fatty acids, which help, control the rapid rise of sugar released from carbohydrates in the bloodstream. This decreases the need for spikes of insulin to control blood sugar levels. High blood sugar is proinflammatory, causing the release of insulin, which also causes a release of ACE 2 an enzyme that allows entry of the SARS COV 2 virus into cells via the ACE 2 receptor.  If we could keep blood sugar lower, down-regulate insulin and therefore reduce ACE 2 production and cells creating more ACE2 receptors then there would be less of a viral spread.

Therefore, in order to optimize the immune system to prepare to respond in a favorable way on exposure to the SARS-COV2 virus it’s not just about getting enough vitamin D, glutathione, and zinc.  One needs to have a healthy and balanced microbiome and gut lining. We’ve helped hundreds of people do this with elimination diets, low fodmap diets, and using our line of pharmaceutical-grade nutraceuticals: DigestMax, ProBio 350 and Probio Plus, and Biotransform.

To get on the AFH microbiome restorative program or other AFH health strategies, or our pharmaceutical-grade natural supplements, please email info@jeffreymarkmd.com, visit www.allfunctionalhealth.com, or call (925)736-9828.  We can ship our supplements to you in all 50 states.

 

Take care and stay healthy.

Jeffrey Mark. M.D.

 

P.S. We are not offering HIPPA compliant video chat telehealth services to all 50 states, so whether you live in California, the Midwestern or Northeastern states, or the East Coast, we are just one phone call away.  

Author
Jeffrey Mark, M.D. Helping clients with compassionate and comprehensive medical care for over 25 years with 4 board certifications in functional medicine, gastroenterology, internal medicine, and anti-aging/ regenerative medicine . IFMCP, ABIM Gastroenterology, NPAS Internal Medicine, ABAARM.

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