Gut bacteria could play a pivotal role in fighting COVID-19, new research studies have found.

The medical profession have known for a long time that the unique assortment of bacteria in a person’s gut plays an important part in someone’s health.

So, a team from the Chinese University of Hong Kong wanted to investigate how the gut might impact the severity of COVID-19.

They discovered that those who suffered with coronavirus had a “significantly altered” microbiome composition.

A different research trial, carried out in South Korea, also found that people who had a poor functioning gut were more likely to develop a severe bout of COVID-19 because the lack of healthy bacteria makes it easier for coronavirus virus to infect cells.

The Hong Kong trial involved looking at the blood, stool and patient records from 100 people who had been admitted to hospital with COVID-19 between February and May 2020.

A total of 27 of those participants then provided samples a month after the infection had passed, allowing the researchers to compare.

The findings of this study have been published in the Gut journal and the researchers wrote: “In light of reports that a subset of recovered patients with COVID-19 experience persistent symptoms, such as fatigue, dyspnoea [breathlessness] and joint pains, some over 80 days after initial onset of symptoms, we posit that the dysbiotic gut microbiome could contribute to immune-related health problems post-COVID-19.”

The lead researcher of the Korea study, Dr Heenam Stanley Kim, said: “There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe COVID-19.

“Simply increasing the daily intake of dietary fiber may markedly help improve gut health. This dietary adaptation may be the most easy and effective method that can be considered to be implemented immediately to prevent severe COVID-19 or just for general health improvement.”

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