Taking a capsule of probiotics, which are designed to boost the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut, may speed up recovery from the Covid-19 infection, according to a new study.
Probiotics are over-the-counter tablets and drinks said to bolster the gut microbiome, the complex intestinal ‘soup’ made up of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
They have been linked to everything from your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes to depression, and now it seems our gut bacteria can also tackle Covid, Daily Mail reported.
For the study, published in the journal Gut Microbes, half of a group of 300 Covid patients aged 16 to 60 who tested positive on a PCR test but didn’t need hospital treatment were given a probiotic capsule, while the other half were given a placebo.
The results showed that 53 per cent of those on the probiotic (78 of 147 in this group) were clear of Covid symptoms within a month, compared with 28 per cent (41 of 146) on the placebo, the report said.
Probiotics are known to contain lactobacillus, which, according to research, produces substances that could communicate with nerve cells and reduce the chronic inflammation associated with many diseases.
Previous research has shown that Long Covid sufferers have low lactobacillus levels in their intestines, possibly leading to inflammation throughout the body.
The new study found those taking the bacteria capsule didn’t just recover more quickly, they also had a lower viral load – the amount of virus circulating in their system, the report said.
According to Philip Calder, Professor of nutritional immunology at Southampton University, probiotics “can modify” the gut microbiome.
“Through this, they might help the immune system to function and limit inflammation,” he was quoted as saying.
A healthier diet and probiotic supplements are likely to boost microbiome health,A added Tim Spector, Professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London.
However, some experts argued that it may not fit every person.
In an online article, Professor Andrew Smith and Dr Paul Gill, experts in microbial diseases at University College London, warned that the study had excluded those over 60 and did not account for whether volunteers had been vaccinated or not, the report said.
“So we don’t know if probiotics provide any benefit to those most at risk of severe Covid.
“And taking probiotics may be inappropriate for those with a weakened immune system because of the potential increased risk of infection from consuming large quantities of live bacteria,” they said.