A happy tum could help tackle Covid-19, scientists have claimed.
They believe the gut could be a key line of defence, with many championing probiotics, as they stimulate “good” gut bacteria.
But naturopath Louise Westra warned there is no one-size-fits-all solution – and there are better ways to keep your insides healthy.
Louise said: “Around 70 to 80 per cent of our immune system is in our gut, so maintaining good gut health is fundamental to immunity but we can’t say probiotics will reduce the risk of Covid-19.
“In my work, I use probiotics to help people with bowel diseases like Crohn’s or IBS because there is evidence good gut bacteria helps.
“But first, I always profile a patient’s microbiome – their natural gut flora – then give a custom regime of probiotics.”
While taking probiotics won’t do you any harm, without a gut profile – which can cost around £300 – they are “unlikely to be beneficial”.
Louise, an expert in herbal medicine, said: “Without this testing, probiotics are a waste of money because unless you know what levels of which bacteria you have in your gut you won’t know the right probiotics to take.”
Earlier this month more than 120 British scientists wrote to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, calling for a probe into a link between coronavirus and a bad diet.
The letter said there had been “compelling” research that suggests people with poor gut health are at higher risk of being badly affected by the virus.
There are some tried-and-tested remedies to help improve gut health, too.
Louise suggests taking zinc, which has been shown to boost upper respiratory health and slow down viruses. Vitamin D can also be beneficial too.
And she claims we also need to be “eating a rainbow” a day – with at least ten servings of fruit and vegetables.
Nutritional therapist Kirsten Oddy agrees that food is key.
She said: “When our immune system is working properly, we do not even notice it but when we have an under or overactive immune system, we are at greater risk of developing other health complaints.
“What we want is to strengthen and support our body’s natural defences and gut health by eating a well-balanced diet.”
Studies have shown that certain foods can reduce the risk and duration of upper respiratory tract infections, potentially managing Covid-19 symptoms.
But according to Kirsten, we need to make sure we are eating a wide variety of fruit and veg, such as “leafy greens, nuts and seeds, complex carbs, lean proteins and healthy fats”.
Kirsten also urged people not to over-rely on probiotics.
“I can’t say probiotics will protect you in terms of the Covid-19 virus, but research is ongoing,” she said.
“They could be beneficial for gut health and help build a strong and robust lining to help defend against pathogens.
“Scientific studies have shown probiotics could help in the production of antibodies and immune cells – vital parts of the body’s natural defence system.
“All of these elements, along with good sleep, hydration and daily exercise could help support your immune system.”