This diet may help reduce inflammation in COVID-19

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In a new study, researchers found a high-fiber diet may help control the inflammation linked to COVID-19.

The research was conducted by a team at the University of Campinas.

Up to 50% of COVID-19 patients experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain. Such symptoms are detected in 17.6% of severe cases.

They are partly linked to viral entry into intestinal cells resulting in alterations to their normal functions.

In addition, recent studies point to major changes in patients’ gut microbiota, including a decrease in levels of bacteria that secrete short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) by fermenting dietary fiber.

SCFAs are important to colon health and maintenance of intestinal barrier integrity.

Previous studies had suggested alterations in gut microbiota and its products could modify an infected subject’s immune response.

In the study, the team examined whether SFCAs directly affected the infection of intestinal cells by SARS-CoV-2.

They took colon tissue samples from 11 patients without COVID-19. Healthy colon tissue and epithelial cells were infected with SARS-CoV-2 in the laboratory and subjected to a battery of tests.

The tissue and cells were treated with compounds produced by gut microbiota metabolization of SCFAs present in dietary fiber.

The team found viral load wasn’t reduced and was the same in cells and tissue treated with SCFAs and in untreated samples.

However, treated intestinal biopsy samples displayed a strong decrease in expression of the gene DDX58 that is related to pro-inflammatory cytokines.

There was also a decrease in expression of the protein TMPRSS2, which is important to viral cell entry.

The team says they will continue their work since the action of these compounds on the infection could depend on a more complete system.

The study is published in the journal Gut Microbes. One author of the study is Patrícia Brito Rodrigues.

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