Health

Scientists warn having an unhealthy gut can increase your risk from coronavirus


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.”

Naturopath Louise Westra

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.

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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

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.

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“Scientific studies have shown probiotics could help in the ­production of antibodies and immune cells – vital parts of the body’s natural defence system.

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“All of these elements, along with good sleep, hydration and daily exercise could help support your immune system.”





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