Long Covid cases are reaching new highs. In fact, estimates show that as many as 60 percent of those diagnosed with the virus still report symptoms a year after contracting Covid. But there’s some good news: A first-of-its-kind study in the journal COVID shows that a blend of probiotics, in addition to a phytochemical-rich capsule, helps accelerate recovery from Long Covid.
Subjects with symptomatic Covid were randomized to take a placebo or a phytochemical-rich concentrated food capsule. Additionally, all participants were given a lactobacillus-rich probiotic and prebiotic blend with inulin (from chicory). Both formulas were created by Professor Robert Thomas, MD, and his team at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, England.
The most common symptoms reported by study participants were fatigue, shortness of breath, pains, altered sense of smell, and bowel symptoms.
The entire group experienced significant improvements in symptoms, particularly fatigue, cough, and overall well-being. Those taking the phytochemical-rich concentrated food capsule (citrus bioflavonoids, resveratrol, pomegranate, turmeric, and chamomile) reported even greater symptom relief.
“Natural phytochemicals, especially the polyphenol group, found in fruit, herbs and vegetables, are demonstrating an increasing role in mitigating certain symptomatic effects associated with viral infections. As well as their positive effects on gut health, polyphenols such as curminoids (found in turmeric), ellagic acid and quercetin and resveratrol (found in tea, grapes, polygonum cuspidatum root and pomegranate) downregulate excess tissue chronic inflammation.”
Does Covid Alter Gut Health?
It’s looking that way, say researchers. Dysbiosis has become prevalent among Covid patients, especially among people with gastrointestinal symptoms. Scientists theorize that this happens because the virus causes gut inflammation, which leads to an imbalance in microflora. It’s also thought that people with dysbiosis are more susceptible to catching Covid.
Probiotics have a demonstrated positive influence on immune function, and according to study authors, probiotics have also been found to “augment intracellular oxidative enzyme capacity in both laboratory and clinical studies among patients with COVID-19, enhancing activity of scavenge tissue damaging superoxide anions.” Also important, probiotics help boost vitamin D absorption and expression. This is particularly essential after a Covid infection as low vitamin D levels have been linked with hyper-inflammatory cytokine production, as well as severe Covid respiratory symptoms.
“In conclusion, intake of this blend of probiotics and prebiotics appears to influence the severity and persistence of symptoms post COVID-19 infection, a finding which supports other recently published studies that have also reported beneficial roles for similar Lactobacillus probiotics. In addition, we believe our study is one of the first to report an additional benefit for patients with symptomatic post-COVID-19 infection for this safe, low-cost phytochemical-rich nutritional intervention.”