A nutritionist has revealed why people suffer from stomach aches months after recovering from Covid, and simple ways to get your digestive health back on track.

Australian nutritionist Lee Holmes has seen many patients visit her clinic with covid-19, including constipation, diarrhea and constipation.

One in three people with Covid have gastrointestinal symptoms. Studies show that people with better gut health have less severe symptoms.

Sydney nutritionist and food writer Lee Holmes (pictured) says while many of us have put on weight over the last six months, there's time to lose weight before the height of summer.

Australian nutritionist Lee Holmes has seen many patients visit her clinic with covid-19, including constipation, diarrhea and constipation.

Lee says this is because the gut and respiratory system share an immune system, known as the stomach-lung axis, which has been detailed in many articles. Microbiology Studies.

‘This axis is bidirectional, meaning that if the gut is infected with bacteria, the lungs are also affected, and vice versa,’ she explains. Blog post.

“Also, there are 100 times more receptors in the GI tract than in the respiratory tract, so the gut can handle more viruses when it gets infected,” she explains.

According to Lee, when a person is infected with Covid cytokines – small proteins that are critical for controlling the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells – enter the body in the lungs.

How a healthy gut can reduce the severity of covid and flu

In a study of Croatian children attending kindergarten, half were given probiotics and half were given a placebo – after three months, those taking probiotics were less likely to get respiratory infections and less sick when they did.

Swedish researchers also studied 272 adults, and the group found that those who used probiotics had milder cold and flu symptoms and less time to catch the virus.

They also found an average of 6.2 days of cold and flu episodes among participants who took the probiotics, compared to 8.2 days for those who took the placebo.

As consultant gastroenterologist and UNSW professor of medicine Imad El-Omar explains, the main function of the gut microbiome is to educate our immune system about our environment.

The lion’s share of our immune system – two-thirds of all immune cells – is concentrated in the digestive system, which is why UNSW’s Microbiome Research Center He is looking at how the makeup of the gut microbiome affects immune responses and various changes in disease progression.

Source: Distributors And NSW Health

Lee says cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, are excellent sources of fiber – which helps maintain a healthy gut.

Lee says cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, are excellent sources of fiber – which helps maintain a healthy gut.

This generally causes inflammation of the body and after these cytokines reach the gut, the virus travels through the blood vessels that drain the blood from the digestive tract and affects the very important vagus nerve, which is responsible for controlling the functions of the internal organs. Digestion, heart rate and respiratory rate.’

What is the gut-lung axis?

The gut-lung axis theory argues that changes in the gut can have a significant impact on lung disease.

Microorganisms in the gut can be recognized by host immune cells, which can cause systemic cytokine release.

Cytokines can then enter the lungs and cause inflammation throughout the body after reaching the intestines.

This also changes the bacteria in the gut, increasing its permeability and causing more inflammation

Source: Mayo Clinic

“Once this happens, the disease affects the gut lining, changes the bacteria in the gut, increases permeability and causes more inflammation,” she says.

‘Increased intestinal permeability, also known as leaky gut, allows the bacteria to circulate, making the pain worse. When this happens, we may experience various digestive symptoms such as bloating or flatulence.

Worse, medicines for other covid symptoms can cause side effects such as nausea and diarrhoea.’

A study by the Chinese University of Hong Kong found that people suffering from Covid-19 have a ‘significantly altered’ microbiome composition.

A separate study from South Korea found that people with a poorly functioning gut are at a higher risk of severe Covid-19 because the lack of healthy microbes makes it easier for the virus to infect cells in the digestive system.

The Hong Kong team analyzed blood, stool and patient records from 100 hospitalized patients between February and May 2020, of which 27 patients provided samples 30 days after infection.

Researchers collected samples from 78 people without Covid-19 who participated in a microbiome study before the outbreak.

The study found that the gut microbiome may be involved in ‘modulating host immune responses to the severity of Covid-19’.

Lee recommends adding kefir, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and yogurt to your diet.

Lee recommends adding kefir, kimchi, miso, sauerkraut and yogurt to your diet.

The authors found that Covid-19 patients depleted levels of several gut bacteria known to enhance the human immune response.

For example, there was evidence of elevated levels of certain bacteria, including Ruminococcus gnavus, Ruminococcus torques and Bacteroides dorei.

Lee also explains that the gut is the center of many body systems, including the immune system.

Probiotic foods

  • Kefr
  • Kimchi
  • Miso
  • Sauerkraut
  • Yogurt

Prebiotic foods

  • banana
  • Cassava
  • Chicken powder
  • Chicory root
  • White garlic

‘It is not surprising that the consequences of covid come in the form of various digestive problems,’ she says.

Lee advises if you’re suffering after contracting Covid. A gut-friendly diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables, soups and smoothies.

‘A gut-friendly shopping list should include anti-inflammatory turmeric, gut-healing gelatin, omega-3-rich fish, protein, gut-loving slippery elm and Overfill Your Gut Synbiotic Powder,’ she says.

Gut friendly coconut oatmeal recipe

Serves 2


  • 50 g (1 3/4 oz/1/2 cup) gluten-free organic rolled oats
  • 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) distilled water
  • A pinch of Celtic or Himalayan sea salt

  • A pinch of ground cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
  • 125 ml (4 fl oz / 1/2 cup) coconut milk
  • 1 handful of mixed fresh fruits
  • Mint leaves, to decorate


  1. Combine the oats and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 12-15 minutes, or until the oats are tender, stirring regularly.
  2. Mix salt, cinnamon. Stir in the coconut milk until smooth and creamy.
  3. Top with berries and mint and serve with extra cinnamon.

She also recommends cutting down on caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar and staying hydrated.

Lee adds that including prebiotics and probiotics in your diet can help shift the balance of unhealthy microflora to a healthy microbiome.

‘Probiotics are live microorganisms found in yogurt, kimchi and sauerkraut that add healthy microbes to the gut,’ she says.

Prebiotics found in artichokes, asparagus and chicory roots act as food for good gut bacteria. Prebiotics improve immunity, reduce inflammation and help with weight loss. Prebiotics and probiotics work in harmony to help gut microflora survive and thrive.

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