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The Microbiome and Long COVID

Updated: Nov 20, 2022

What is Long COVID?

Many people are still suffering from lingering and debilitating symptoms long after contracting Covid-19. This condition is known as long-covid. Long-covid is when symptoms linger after 4 weeks and persist for at least 12 weeks.

Long-covid can affect multiple organs including the lungs, brain, heart, nose, liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas, joints, and skin. It can also cause psychological symptoms including anxiety, PTSD, and interfere with sleep.

The most common symptom of long-covid is fatigue. Some other common symptoms of long-covid are brain fog, dyspnea, fatigue, hair loss, lingering cough, and gastrointestinal complaints.

Long COVID and Inflammation

One of the complications of covid infection is called a cytokine storm. This is when your immune system releases too many inflammatory markers, called cytokines, in your bloodstream.

Some of these cytokines can remain long after the infection, and the three most common cytokines associated with long-covid are IL-1, IL-6, and TNF-alpha.

These cytokines each have a story. Cytokine IL-1 causes fatigue, malaise, and depression. TNF-alpha causes hostility and pain. IL-6 causes fatigue and anxiety. Sound familiar?

What Can We Do About It?

Although Covid-19 is mainly a respiratory illness, there is now evidence that Covid -19 also impairs gut functioning. Covid-19 can cause a leaky gut, which allows gut antigens and microbes to cross into the bloodstream and cause inflammation. It also can cause an imbalance in the microflora and mucosal immune system.

With this knowledge, one of the best ways to heal from long-covid is a robust and diverse microbiome. What is the best way to create a diverse microbiome? A healthy diet & low stress! Keep challenging yourself to eat 30 plants per week and do something every day for self-care.

Meditation, mindfulness, prayer, laughing, getting outside - these are all great options! For those who want help with eating 30 plants per week, I'm leading a Spring Cleaning March 21-30th that includes 33 plants per week (not including spices!). Join in here! I can't wait to see you soon!


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