Is there a link between Covid and your gut health?

Covid & Gut Health

The answer to this question is big fat yes, of course! Any viral infection can cause post-viral fatigue or ME and can affect the digestive system, and Covid is no different.

People infected with Covid-19 experience a wide range of symptoms, the most commonly reported including high fevers and respiratory problems. However, autopsy and other studies have also revealed that the infection can affect the liver, kidney, heart, spleen – and even the gastrointestinal tract. A sizeable fraction of patients hospitalised with breathing problems have also had diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, suggesting that when the virus does get involved in the GI tract, it increases the severity of the disease.

Studies have also suggested that gut dysfunction – and its associated leaky gut – may exacerbate the severity of infection by enabling the virus to access the surface of the digestive tract and internal organs. There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe Covid-19. Many recent studies have found reduced bacterial diversity in gut samples collected from Covid-19 patients, compared to samples from healthy people. The disease has also been linked to a depletion of beneficial bacterial species – and the enrichment of pathogenic ones.

The pathogenesis of Covid-19 is still not fully understood. However, I have certainly had more than the usual number of enquiries these past few months from people who have had sickness, diarrhoea, painful cramps, and flare-ups of previously well-managed IBS. A lot of enquiries too from many, many people who complain of nausea, not vomiting, just nausea.

I’ve also received messages from people who have had the vaccines, and in a matter of days, have presented with ME-type symptoms, not to mention neurological symptoms like Bell’s Palsy, and flare-ups of their IBS.

It’s certainly a complex issue and research is ongoing, but I do find it strange how some people get over having Covid quite quickly, with no after-effects, yet others come down with the most awful debilitating symptoms that last for months.

Back in the early 1990s, I developed post-viral fatigue (ME) from a nasty bout of tonsillitis. I wasn’t looking after myself properly. My parents had separated, we were moving house, and my husband, Kevin, had been made redundant. My stress levels were through the roof, then I got tonsillitis. I went back to work after just a couple of days, then six months later, hit a brick wall with severe fatigue, brain fog, loss of concentration, and depression; interestingly, I had no digestive or gut symptoms.

It took years for the medics to take the people who presented with ME-type symptoms seriously. They said it was all in their heads, and there was very little research done. Perhaps where Covid is concerned, there will be more money pumped into research to find out what causes such symptoms.

When it comes to catching viruses and how we recover from them, a lot has to do with how effective each person’s immune system is; obviously an ageing immune system can put older people more at risk of getting viruses. I know people who have had Covid multiple times, even after four vaccines, as well as people who have not had the vaccines and never had Covid, or at least have probably been asymptomatic. It’s very complicated. The fact that Covid was a novel virus caught us all unawares. In a bad flu year, 30,000 people can die, but Covid-19 killed over 200,000 in the UK.

Stress plays a huge part in our overall wellness. If I hadn’t been so stressed over what was happening in my personal life, I don’t think I would have come down with the tonsillitis when I did, and if I had, I certainly think I would have made a better recovery.

So how can we stay Covid-free this winter? I know a lot of people who have been asking this question. I am always very well armed for winter. I take my Live Bacteria capsules, my Garlic tablets and my Omega 3 capsules, one of each daily, as I always have. I also take a Digestive Enzymes tablet if needed, mainly if I’m eating late in the evening.

I take a multivitamin/mineral tablet daily that contains zinc. I take Vitamin D, Vitamin A and Echinacea daily, and I have on stand-by some high-strength Vitamin C in the form of a magnesium ascorbate powder (more gentle on the stomach, meaning I can take large doses at the first sign of an infection), elderberry syrup, thyme and liquorice linctus, and my nebuliser with saline and hydrogen peroxide. I also have Beecham’s powders and Nurofen to hand, and lots of lemons and honey, just in case.

I ensure that I don’t get constipated, and because I have a lazy bowel, I take measures so this doesn’t happen, whether it be taking one of my Speedy Bowel Formula capsules and/or having a colon hydrotherapy treatment. I’m back exercising regularly at the gym, which I will continue throughout winter, and I ensure I get plenty of sleep, which has always been crucial to my health.

I haven’t had Covid, or if I have, I’ve been one of the asymptomatic ones. This armoury of supplements may sound overwhelming, but it has served me well over the years, having very few colds or viruses; if and when I do fall ill, I soon shake it off.

If you would like to talk more about the best supplements to take and practices to adopt over the winter months, please get in touch.