Covid-19 and Your (Gut) Health

With such uncertainly in the world right now what we eat is one thing we have some sort of control over.  Well, as long as we can find it in the supermarket.

We are also familiar with the symptoms of COVID-19 by now.  Fever, dry cough and shortness of breath being the most common.  Even if you don’t have the virus a wide range of issues may still be impacting you.  Anxiety, racing heartbeat, trouble sleeping may all be creeping into your life.

If you suffer from gut-related issues such as IBS, bloating or constipaiton, this emotionally charged climate can make all of your symptoms worse.  Even if you have never experienced digestive issues before, the increase in anxiety and uncertainly in the world can impact your gut function.

One of the areas of support we can focus on is our gut health.

Gut Health

Our gut and the other linings of our body, (ie nose and lungs) are regulated by similar processes.  Looking after these mucous membranes can be another part of our immune support.

We may think of our gut as simply a place where we absorb for.  Or even somewhere we can get bloating or constipation.  But in reality about 80% of our immune system lives here and it has a similar amount of detoxification activity as the liver. 

So how do we support it?

The diversity of the gut microbiome is the key indicator of its health.  The most diverse the array of bacteria, the more resilient it is.

Supporting Bacterial Diversity

Let’s do it….

Spend time in nature
Exposure to bugs in nature provides a good dose of bacteria as well as helping us to relax.

7-9 Hours Sleep
Sleep deprivation may lead to a less diverse (and less resilient) microbiome. It can also increase anxiety and pain in IBS sufferers.

The Importance of Chewing
To support digestive processes, aim for 30 chews per mouthful.

Fermented Foods
Small and steady amounts each day support the microbiome as well as our immunity.

Prebiotics
These are the food sources for the bacteria…but may be a bit risky if you suffer from IBS.

Variety
Aim to include at least 30 different plant foods each week and to ‘eat the rainbow’ each day.

Toilet Time
In this busy world, are you making time for a satisfying…trip the toilet? The more regular bowel movements are, the less time the stool stays in the colon. This extra time spent in the colon can disrupt the microbiome.

Taking a Break From Food
Resting the gut can support healing processes as well as microbiome diversity.

Exercise
Regular movement increases microbial diversity and the integrity of the gut lining.

Limit “Gut Ruiners’
What we don’t put into the gut is just as important as what we do put into it. Alcohol, refined carbohydrates and of course our old friend, stress, all have a negative impact on the gut. 

As you may have noticed this list contains a lot of the points we know to be healthy.  Could the reasons that they are so beneficial be that they support our gut health?

Additional Immune Support

Additionally, there is a range of supplements that might help to support the immune system.  These include;

Vitamin C
A long period of infection can lower levels of vitamin C.  Some research indicated that it is also effective against some strains of coronavirus. It may also reduce the incidence and severity of pneumonia.

Vitamin A
This is a key nutrient to support the immune response and protects cells that line the gut and lungs. It also helps to regulate inflammation reducing the risk of digestive related issues such as bloating and constipation. Liver is a fantastic source of this vitamin.

Zinc
This nutrient has the power to enhances immune cell function and can also inhibit viral replication.  Some research also indicated that it may shorten the duration of colds by 7 days.

Vitamin D
Enhances natural immune response against various infections, including flu and upper respiratory tract infections and inhibits chronic inflammation.

Elderberry
This herb helps to stop the virus entering our cells to reproduce and can also increase the immune system activity against flu leading to a more rapid recovery.

Probiotics
Certain strains or combinations of probiotics such as LAB4 reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infection. Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG has proven effective in decreasing the number, severity and duration of respiratory tract.

Staying Healthy

Health isn’t about making 1 big change.  It’s about doing as many of the small things as possible.  Beit, eating a couple of more servings of vegetables each day or working in some relaxation time.

They all add up.

During this uncertain time focusing on the small things that we can control can make all of the difference to our emotional and physical health.

Have a question?

For the next 7 days I’m offering free 30-minute phone consultations to help support you through this period.

These can be booked here.