Rutgers University Study Seeks Link Between Gut Microbiome and COVID-19 Severity

Rutgers University Study Seeks Link Between Gut Microbiome and COVID-19 Severity

As the COVID-19 vaccine begins its mass roll out our attention moves away from trying to understand the virus to how we can beat it. 

With the infection rate dramatically on the increase its not enough to pin all our hopes on the vaccine, some of us will not receive the vaccine for some time. 

Early in 2020 researchers at Rutgers University’s Centre for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine in America launched a prospective study on 850 healthcare workers all of whom had been exposed to COVID-19 and at least 10% had already tested positive fr the virus.

The study is led by Dr Martin Blaser Director at Rutgers University’s Centre for Advanced Biotechnology and Medicine aswell as a professor of medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr Blaser is an expert on microbiome and its connection with diseases like asthma, diabetes and cancer. 

There is a large area of unknown about why some people get mild symptoms and other very severe and this study focuses on what gut health and the microbiome can tell us about COVID infection.

Blaser says “There has been considerable literature (including our own work) that microbiome characteristics affect responses to invading pathogens, whether they are bacterial or viral,”

With a wide range of results from the study participants, some with no infection at all to more severe symptoms, this research could have broad implications, should the potential connection between COVID and the microbiome be identified.

The microbiome has only just begun to reach a broader audience, despite its impact on so many of the body’s critical functions. From the kidneys, to the heart, and even the brain, proper gut health has effects that reach far beyond the digestive tract.

As treatments continue to develop and vaccines are distributed to a wider population, researchers may even be able to determine more precisely how gut bacteria can be changed or supplemented to help prevent or treat infection. Early research into the effect of probiotics and prebiotics on COVID risk showed promising results.1

“That’s not surprising,” Blaser says, “as one of the functions of the microbiome is to defend its host from invaders.” He adds that an individual’s particular microbiome characteristics may also be able to  predict the strength of their response to a vaccine.

Implications of the Study

As we learn more about the whos, whys, and hows of the coronavirus infection, it remains that personal behavior and risk reduction strategies play a large part in whether or not you get infected. We should all now be used to social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands and these continue to be effective methods to stay safe.

That doesn’t preclude other strategies because as ever, taking daily exercise, getting plenty of sleep, focusing on your mental wellness, and eating a well rounded healthy diet play important roles in maintaining a strong immune system all help you fight infection.

What does this mean for you?

Marlene Hochstrasser our Clinical Director says “Make sure you are eating right, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and managing your stress as these can all positively improve your gut health. I would also advise that you can help support your gut health by consuming high-fiber foods, which can be beneficial to your digestive system and gut microbiome, in addition taking a daily probiotic like my High PRObio which is is a practitioner-strength, multi-strain probiotic supplement with 20 billion friendly bacteria per capsule – equivalent to 40 pots of probiotic yoghurt, but without the added sugar, dairy and fat.”

We also offer a range of supplements specifically created by The Devon Allergy Clinic all aimed at supporting and boosting your gut health available on our online shop.

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