COVID-related Gastrointestinal symptoms

You should not ignore and gut issues that potentially prolong after having COVID-19

Dr.Sapna Makhija, MD, FRCPC, ABOM Diplomat Gastroenterologist with an interest in Clinical Nutrition and co-owner of  GI Health Centre in Burlington outlines gut health tips and Gastrointestinal symptoms that should not be overlooked that points to COVID-19  
In the early stages of COVID-19 Chinese researchers pinpointed Gastrointestinal Manifestations and Potential FecalOral Transmission as a source of spreading the virus, noting that the oral is a route into the body but the “digestive tract is a primary organ system for the virus to multiply, replicate, and potentially spread,” cited Brennan Spiegel, MD, of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told MedPage Today.

A study shows that 5 percent to 15 percent of patients who have contracted COVID-19, often have gut issues that have persisted after the first phase of the infection and sometimes signalled worse patient outcomes, as it might indicate the virus has involved more into the body.

Recently New York clinicians published figures that noted 22 percent of COVID-19 hospital patients had diarrhea, 7 percent had abdominal pain, 16 percent had nausea, and 9 percent had vomiting. Overall, 33 percent of patients had gastrointestinal issues and 62 percent of patients evidence of liver injury.

Dr. Sapna Makhija shares what complications could arise with your gut health in the future after having COVID-19 but also tips on how to strengthen your gut health.

Future complications after having Gastrointestinal issues after having COVID-19

  • Gastrointestinal issues for up to two months after recovering
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Decreased appetite
  • Mood fluctuations

Gastrointestinal health tips

  • Having adequate fibre & water (helps with stool transit. Fibre also helps with Cholesterol control, satiety and improves the microbiome. Soluble fibre lowers cholesterol by binding to it in the small intestine. Once inside the small intestine, the fibre attaches to the cholesterol particles, preventing them from entering your bloodstream and travelling to other parts of the body.)
  • Avoiding processed foods (the environment created in the gut by processed foods (once broken down) is a great environment for microbes that promote diverse forms of inflammatory disease. Also, studies show that the availability of processed foods is positively associated with the prevalence of obesity)
  • A variety of vegetables (if cellular plant foods (vegetables) are ingested—a substantial amount of feels from whole plant food will enter the colon in an intact state, and favours the growth of bacteria that degrade the fibre and produce beneficial metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that are beneficial for the host)
  • Exercise & Stress level management (there are a small number of studies that suggest exercise affects the gut in a positive way, and stress).

“The gut microbiome consists of trillions of species, which makes it so unpredictable and a challenge to adequately study. One of the main roles of the gut is to keep the body’s immune response on point. One of the best ways to optimize your gut immune system is to diversify the gut bacteria. This may assist in making the body more resilient at fighting disease and infection. There is also a connection between the gut and the brain, called the gut/brain axis. The gut bacteria produce mood chemicals that are critical for mood, anxiety and concentration,” says Dr. Sapna Makhija, MD, FRCPC, ABOM Diplomat Gastroenterologist and co-owner of GI Health Centre.


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