Long-haulers Syndrome – Microbiome Support
Your gastrointestinal tract is a finely balanced ecosystem with trillions of bacteria from over 500 different species. When a healthy gut microbiome exists, few gastrointestinal symptoms are present.
An unhealthy microbiome can contribute to symptoms of fatigue, brain fog, insomnia, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea and constipation.
We live in a symbiotic relationship with these organisms. They have evolved with us for millions of years and play an important role in maintaining our health. However, the natural balance of gut microorganisms can be upset by infections, poor diet, high stress, alcohol consumption, and many common medications (such as antibiotics, oral contraceptives, etc.).
Evidence now suggests that the COVID-19 virus infects human gut cells leading to alterations in the gut microbiome composition.
One recent study found that gut microbiome composition is significantly altered in patients with COVID-19 compared to the general population. Researchers found that several normal gut organisms with known immunomodulatory potential, including bifidobacteria, were underrepresented in COVID-19 patient samples and remained low for at least 30 days after the infection cleared. The authors stated that gut microbiome abnormalities could contribute to persistent post-COVID-19 symptoms and might provide a target for future therapeutic interventions.
It’s helpful to think of the gut microbiome as your private inner garden.
Your inner garden can be beautiful and healthy, or overgrown with weeds, bugs and mold. It can also be of intermediate health with many strong, beautiful plants, accompanied by some unwanted weeds. When your inner garden is healthy and vital, it produces key nutrients and helps your body remain strong. When it is weak and overgrown with unhealthy organisms, your immune system can become overactive, and a chronic inflammatory state can occur.
Mounting evidence suggests that the composition of your gut microbiome can be linked to inflammatory diseases both within and outside of the GI tract.
One way to assess the health and composition of your gut microbiome is for your doctor to order a comprehensive stool analysis. This test takes a ‘snapshot of your gut microbiome’ and can identify the presence of unhealthy bacteria, intestinal parasites or other unhealthy organisms (such as Candida albicans) that can contribute to an unhealthy gut microbiome. By properly identifying the factors contributing to an imbalance, an effective treatment program can be instituted.
Listed below are several effective ways to encourage the health and vitality of your gut microbiome:
1. Eat a healthy, natural foods diet that is high in protein, healthy fats and plant fiber. Limit simple carbohydrates such as white sugar, bread, cakes, cookies and white rice.
2. Rest for at least 15 minutes after meals to allow your digestive system to begin the process of digesting your food. This ensures that your parasympathetic nervous system gets things moving in he right direction before you start ‘doing stuff’ and your sympathetic nervous system begins inhibiting good digestion.
3. Move your body on a regular basis even if it’s just with walking, stretching, doing gentle yoga or gardening.
4. Apply a heating pad to your abdomen before going to sleep. This helps draw blood circulation to your gut and relaxes the muscles in your belly that move food down the digestive tract.
5. Supplement your gut bacteria with a broad range of healthful probiotic organisms. Supplementing your gut microbiome with healthy probiotic organisms is like planting a fresh crop of healthy plants in your garden.
After 30 years of medical practice, I have identified a supplement regimen that, in my clinical experience, work extremely well to help restore a healthy gut microbiome:
Intestinal Rejuvenation Program
1. Broad-spectrum probiotic supplement containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacteria organisms. This helps form a foundation of healthy gut organisms.
2. Bacillus species spores (MegaSpore Biotic) – can help recondition the gut by promoting additional microbial diversity and supporting healthy gut and immune function. Bacillus spores can survive exposure to stomach acid and do not require refrigeration.
I usually have my patients take one capsule of each of the above supplements per day to start, gradually increasing to a therapeutic dosage of two capsules of each twice daily. After about two months, you can go to once daily as maintenance.
Maintaining a healthy gut microbiome is one of the best things you can do to improve your health. Remember, you can’t be happy if your gut isn’t happy and you can’t be healthy if your gut isn’t healthy!
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Jon D. Kaiser, M.D.