Breaking News: Covid-19 can be a trigger for long term gut problems and even trigger irritable bowel disease!!

Compared with patients in control groups those that had Covid-19 were 62% increased risk of developing gastric and/or duodenal ulcers. They were 35% more likely to suffer acute pancreatitis and 54% more likely to have IBS type symptoms including but not limited to constipation, bloating, diarrhoea, abdominal pain.

“At this point we have to acknowledge that gut health must be an integral part of post-Covid care” said Ziyad Al-Aly Medical Director at St Louis School of Medicine. 2023

Long Covid

There is also the long-lasting effects of anxiety, depression and insomnia that are becoming part of what is now known as “long-Covid”. Additional complaints of exhaustion, crippling fatigue, joint aches and pains, gut problems, brain fog and low mood are all prevalent symptoms.

Recently analysis of data from long-covid sufferers is also showing a correlation to onset of gastro-intestinal problems including IBS, IBD; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis being triggered since Covid-19 infections and vaccinations. There have even been correlations made to increased cases of pancreatitis, gastric ulcers and duodenal ulcers.

The inflammation caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus appears to be systemic and not just targeting the respiratory system.

Covid-19 Virus Effects Beyond The Lungs

The SARS virus infects healthy cells including the cells lining the gut resulting in symptoms ranging from bloating, pain, IBS to more serious irritable bowel disease such as Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis. So, how does it get there and what effect does it have?

The virus survives and replicates by taking over the hosts own cells. Once inside our cells it can replicate its DNA and infect the host. Its method of entry into our cells is via the ACE-2 receptor found in lungs, liver, heart, kidneys, blood vessels, and gastrointestinal tract. Once inside the host cells it impedes normal organ function.

Our immune cells arrive on site to fight the virus by producing cytokines. Our immune cells involved in the inflammatory response can be so powerful that they can cause damage through “friendly fire” leading to the common respiratory problems we saw in Covid-19 cases. Now that we have learned more about the destructive ability of the virus which once, we believed to be mostly focused in the lungs, we now understand that the wider affects spread to cause inflammation systemically in blood vessels, brain tissue, pancreas and the gut.

Food intolerances Increased Since Covid

The virus appears to be able to also “infect” some beneficial bacteria including our sentinel acid-producing Lactobacillus species. These species are important to the overall health of our gut environment and to the balance of microbes living in our gastro-intestinal tract. Lactobacillus species produce acids which keep yeast and fungal species in check but also produce important short chain fatty acids such as butyrate which nourish and feed our enterocytes (the cells lining the GI tract).

More and more gut problems have been identified since in those vaccinated and those who got the virus, especially what we call “long-haulers” aka Long Covid. Once infected through Covid-19 and/or the vaccines, the breakdown of gut microbiome and reduced resilience in the gut lining results in loss of beneficial bacteria and  susceptibility to pathogens and reactions to food proteins are greatly increased leading to the increased IBS/IBD symptoms and food sensitivities that I am seeing more and more in my clinic today.

Many clients have asked for my help since noticing much worse symptoms since having Covid-19 or having the vaccination so there certainly appears to be a direct link between the virus and inflammatory conditions including autoimmune conditions.

Your gut microbiome make-up affects your risk of Long-Covid.

A study of 106 patients with long covid were checked for the presence 30 commonly reported symptoms of long COVID at 3 and 6 months after initial COVID-19 infection.
The average age of the patients with COVID-19 infection was 48 and over half were women. Most (81%) had mild to moderately severe infection.
“Long COVID was reported in 86 (81%) of these patients at 3 months and in 81 (76.5%) at 6 months. The most common symptoms at 6 months were fatigue (31%), poor memory (28%), hair loss (22%), anxiety (21%) and sleep disturbances (21%).
There were no significant differences in potentially influential factors, such as age, gender, prevalence of underlying conditions, use of antibiotics or antiviral drugs, or COVID-19 severity between patients with and without long COVID, 6 months after initial infection.” (ref: doi 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-325989)
Stool samples were analysed at 6 months from 50 that had long COVID. While initial viral load wasn’t associated with long COVID, their gut microbiome differed from that of patients without long COVID and those who hadn’t had COVID-19 infection. These patients had a less diverse and abundant microbiome; the gut microbiome of patients who didn’t develop long COVID was similar to that of those who hadn’t had COVID-19 infection.
This clearly demonstrates that an altered gut microbial balance affects your ability to fight viruses and infections. To be in your best health you must take the health of your gut seriously. It is often not difficult to do! it may mean adding in some new, gut-healthy food, maybe taking a supplement to help shift the microbiome back into balance and it may involve stool testing so I can have a clear picture of what is going on. I am seeing many instances of a disordered gut microbiome with yeast overgrowths and loss of lactobacillus species. This is because lactobacillus species produce acids which yeast can’t tolerate helping to prevent yeast overgrowth. Other species that are found to be out of kilter drive inflammation in the gut and some are histamine producers resulting in mast cell activation which can cause allergy-type symptoms, hives, rashes and worse hayfever. (Ref: doi 10.1136/gutjnl-2021-325989)

What Can I Do Now?

The good news is that there is a lot we can do to unravel the situation backwards by working together, reducing inflammation, restoring gut health and gut microbial balance resulting in less symptoms and even the potential of health recovery. A gut reset is the best way to begin your journey to recovery. I help you do this through careful but specific modification to diet and can offer functional testing to help us be super-targeted and speed up your progress.

Have you had Covid-19 and had gut troubles since? or are you suffering with long Covid? I would love to hear from you. I am sadly seeing lots of cases that appeared to have been triggered from the virus and/or the vaccinations. Feel free to privately message or email me

There is no better time than now to take our gut health more seriously and do all that we can to protect our future health and wellbeing. Contact me for a friendly chat or to book a consultation.

#COVID19 #IBS #IBD #pancreatitis #guthealth #health #nutrition #functionalmedicine #gastrointestinalhealth

#IBD #IBS #nutrition #guthealth #inflammation #Covid-19 #SARS #virus #immunehealth #fatigue #brainfog #symptoms #healthyfood #naturalsolutions #gut #nutritionaltherapy

*Disclaimer: the information provided here is for information purposes only and not designed to treat or diagnose. I do not know your personal circumstances and therefore to get a personalised, bespoke health plan please get in touch to arrange your private consultation today. Evie Whitehead DipION mBANT CNHC 2023


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