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Has a post-COVID belly got you down?

If you’re experiencing lingering digestive issues after having Covid-19 you’re not alone. Post-covid gut issues are something I’ve seen a fortune of in my clinic recently – from bloating, reflux and flatulence to constipation, diarrhoea and leaky gut. So, I’m here to help. 

The gut is the body’s epicentre to health. It’s central to many of the body’s systems, including the immune system, so it isn’t surprising that the aftermath of COVID can come in the form of a range of digestive issues. 

Some of the most common gut symptoms associated with the virus include vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, a lack of appetite, abdominal pain, flatulence, distorted taste and nausea. If you’re experiencing any of these during or after catching COVID, no, it’s not a coincidence or your body playing tricks on you. In fact, up to a whopping one-third of people with COVID have experienced gastrointestinal symptoms.

Why does COVID impact the Gut? 

While the jury is still out on this one, it’s clear that although COVID is primarily a respiratory illness, more evidence suggests that the GI tract is involved in this disease.  

The Gut Lung Axis

It turns out that the gut and the respiratory tract share an immune system, known as the gut-lung axis.1 This axis is bi-directional, which means if the gut is affected by bacteria, the lungs will be impacted too, and vice versa.2

There are also around 100 times more receptors in the GI tract than respiratory organs, so the gut may be able to house more viruses when it acquires an infection. 

In COVID, when pro-inflammatory cytokines enter the body through the lungs, it causes all-over body inflammation. Once these cytokines reach the gut, the virus can travel through veins that drain blood from the digestive tract, impacting the all-important vagus nerve.

Once this occurs, the disease impacts the gut barrier, altering bacteria within the gut, increasing its permeability and causing more inflammation.3

Increased intestinal permeability, which is also known as leaky gut, allows the bacteria to circulate, exacerbating the illness. When this happens, we can experience a range of digestive discomfort symptoms, like bloating or flatulence.  

To make matters worse, the medications taken for other symptoms of COVID can cause side effects like nausea and diarrhoea.

What Happens to the Microbiome?

The gut is the largest immune organ in the body, and its bacteria influence immune responses. The variety of the gut’s bacteria may influence the severity of COVID and the body’s response to it. Imbalances and inflammation in the microbiome may be implicated in persisting symptoms, known as ‘long COVID’.4

Increased intestinal permeability or leaky gut hinders the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients, making it harder to fight off an infection.

Who is Most Likely to Experience Gut Symptoms with COVID? 

Unfortunately, people with pre-existing GI conditions, such as ulcerative colitis or IBS, may experience the disease more seriously and have adverse complications that's why it's so important to look after your gut health both prophylactically and on an ongoing basis.

What’s the Bottom Line?

More research is needed to understand the full extent COVID has on the body, but it is clear that the gut is involved.  

My Top Tips for The COVID and Post-COVID Gut 

A Gut-Friendly Diet 

Focus on a gut-friendly diet filled with omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, soups and smoothies. A gut-friendly shopping list should include anti-inflammatory turmeric, gut-healing gelatine, omega-3-rich fish, protein, gut-loving slippery elm and supercharged Love Your Gut Sybiotic Powder (available in NZ SOON!)

The Love Your Gut Sybiotic Powder (available in NZ SOON!)
helps repair, restore, and rebalance and reignite your gut health from within.

Source: Lee Holmes Supercharged Food

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