Gut health is a priority during COVID and always


There’s never a good time to abuse your gut with foods or habits that encourage dysbiosis, but this holiday season we may want to be especially mindful.  Two journal articles link COVID with gut health, and both suggest that now is a good time to pamper our guts.

The first article describes a study where researchers looked at the gut microbes in 2-3 weekly fecal samples taken from patients during their hospital stays for COVID.  It showed that gut microbes changed for the worse.  Over time, fewer “friendly” microbes were found in fecal samples whereas more “unfriendly” microbes appeared.  The dysbiosis remained even after the SARS-CoV-2 virus was cleared from the system.

(If you’re like me, you may be asking “couldn’t terrible hospital food cause the dysbiosis?!” But there were control groups to rule that out).

This suggests that getting COVID (especially being sick enough to be hospitalized) may leave people with dysbiosis.  To me, it suggests that for anyone who had COVID, this is NOT the year to eat extra holiday candy, cookies, or booze.  Remember, research suggests that we can eat a variety of whole plant foods to help the friendly microbes thrive again, because they like plant fiber.  We can also help starve the bad microbes by avoiding their favorite foods:  sugar and anything highly processed.

The second article discusses pre-COVID gut health.  It suggests that pre-existing gut health may help determine whether a patient’s immune system has an appropriate response to COVID, versus a response that is either too weak or too inflammatory.  To err on either side is undesirable.  Once again, gut health may matter more than ever.

So, with the holiday season coming, my next blog will share ideas to make holidays both festive and health-conscious.


Zuo T, Zhang F, Lui GCY, et al. Alterations in Gut Microbiota of Patients With COVID-19 During Time of Hospitalization. Gastroenterology. 2020;159(3):944-955.e8. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2020.05.048

Dhar D, Mohanty A. Gut microbiota and Covid-19- possible link and implications. Virus Res. 2020;285:198018. doi:10.1016/j.virusres.2020.198018