We all know how important gut health is to our overall well-being, but new research is shedding light on how especially beneficial it is for COVID-19 symptoms — and choosing a fiber-rich bowl of cereal for breakfast could help you feel better faster if you’re recovering from the virus.
According to microbiologist Heenam Stanley Kim, PhD, “There seems to be a clear connection between the altered gut microbiome and severe COVID-19.” He came to this conclusion after reviewing several studies that showed reduced levels of “good bacteria” in gut samples collected from patients with the virus.
He points out how other studies have highlighted underlying conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes as higher risk factors for the virus — but you’ll often find gut imbalance goes hand-in-hand with those issues as well. This is because a weaker gut lining can make it easier for the pathogens that cause those issues to reach our cells and therefore makes us more vulnerable to illnesses.
Dr. Kim was inspired to look into this connection after noticing how hard areas like the United States and Western Europe have been hit by the pandemic. He quickly noticed a lack of one important nutrient in our average meals as the common denominator: fiber.
“A fiber-deficient diet is one of the main causes of altered gut microbiomes,” he explained. “Such gut microbiome dysbiosis leads to chronic diseases.” With that in mind, he recommends adding more fiber-rich foods to our diet. Not only will it help us avoid harsh symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting if we get the virus, but also hopefully improve other chronic conditions that can become life-threatening with COVID.
Of course, Kim encourages us to keep our fiber intake and gut balance in mind even when the pandemic eases up, as it’s key to living a long, healthy life. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious options we can add to our plates — like avocado, oatmeal, and hummus. (Click here for more of our favorite fiber-rich snacks.)