#RefThe subject of Gut Microbiome has been banded about a lot lately - general opinion is that further research is required, but there is mounting evidence to suggest that gut microbiome may be important. Although this is not my area of expertise as an Osteopath, it's an area I'm fascinated in and have watched/participated in quite a few scientific lectures regarding the subject. It makes sense that the right fuel for your body helps increase longevity, fitness, keep disease at bay, and help keep us healthy and sane.
I recently came across an article by Despina Marselou who's a dietician specialising in autoimmune diseases and chronic inflammation. As we know large inflammatory reactions seem to correlate with increased severity of symptoms in COVID patients, the article describes why we should be thinking about our diets at the moment - please click on links below for more in-depth info and references:
The COVID-19 virus has a affinity for ACE2 protein receptors, on the outside of certain cells within the body, in order to infect us. There is a large proportion of these receptors in the lungs but some are also in the oral cavity, oesophagus, stomach, digestive tract and also kidneys, gallbladder, heart muscle and cerebellum in brain. If the GI tract becomes infected we know that many people suffer from symptoms such as diarrhoea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
The gut-lung axis is already known to affect the progress of certain respiratory conditions. It describes the cross-talk between the gut-microbiota and the lungs - this communication is a two way channel - endotoxins and metabolites produced by gut bacteria (microbiome) travel through the blood and influence the lungs. Vice versa inflammation in the lungs can affect bacteria in the gut.
As certain pathogens as well as COVID-19 seem to have an affinity for certain cells that affect our gut bacteria, many scientists are currently looking at the GI tract as a possible target when fighting disease and transmission generally:-
The National Health Commission in China and the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine have recommended the use of probiotics in patients with severe COVID. Elsewhere it is generally believed further research is needed to recommend probiotics to COVID patients. However, a recent review on the impact of diet on COVID recommends the following in the meantime:
"It is recommended that individuals refrain from eating foods high in saturated fats and sugar and instead consume high amounts of fibre, whole grains, unsaturated fats, and antioxidants (polyphenols) to support immune function."
Sounds very familiar doesn't it! Basically the message we keep hearing is the bigger variety of fruits and vegetables we consume the better - this is what really increases our diversity of bacteria in the gut. Different varieties of varying colours - in the main they are low in calories, so just pile them on your plate. Also pulses such as lentils, plus nuts (in moderation = calorie dense, but high in fibre and unsaturated fats), seeds. whole grain foods, and other sources of good bacteria e.g., natural yoghurt, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, depending on your tastes, are also good sources. Unsaturated fats high in the right balance of omega fatty acids 3/6/9 are also very important, particularly omega 3 as tends to be more lacking in our diet (eg, fish oil, flaxseed oil). Natural fresh and preferably organic sources tend to be superior to taking probiotic tablets and vitamins and minerals if at all possible. Although Vitamin D may be recommended in winter months. A bit or dark chocolate, red wine and a couple of cups of ideally black coffee, are beneficial for us too.
We all need a few treats but more and more scientific evidence suggests that what we eat can make a huge difference to our wellbeing not only during the current pandemic but for the long-term.