Gut Health’s Impact On Respiratory Infections


Like other countries, New Zealand experiences an increase in respiratory infections during the winter months, which typically begin in May and end in September. 

This is due to a combination of well-known factors, including increased indoor activities, closer proximity to others, and decreased vitamin D levels due to less sunlight exposure; however, overall gut health also plays a role in respiratory infections.

Over recent years more has been understood and discovered about the long-term severity of COVID-19. Dubbed “long-COVID” by scientists, over 32 percent of patients have suffered long-term health effects from the COVID-19 virus. Recent studies have shown that the severity of both COVID and long-COVID are impacted by gut health, specifically the microbiome. HPriorimmunity to other respiratory viruses may provide some protection against COVID-19, as studies have suggested that a robust immune system can help fight off the virus.

“COVID is a respiratory disorder, but the gut is the largest immunological organ, so it stands to reason that the gut and the resident microbiome will influence the immune response to any viral infection,’’ said Leon Henry, Australasian Pacific Business Development Manager.

Other data were reported on a stool analysis from a range of people, both without COVID and people with varying severity of COVID. Strains known to improve immunity, such as Bifidobacterium adolescentis, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium rectale, were significantly lower in patients with COVID.

Blood samples from this study showed that a microbial imbalance is related to inflammation and tissue damage. After considering age and antibiotic use, insufficient Bifido bacteria and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii were associated with more severe infections. Low numbers of these bacteria continued at least 30 days after the infection had ended. 

The most common symptoms are joint pain, fatigue, and breathlessness. Researchers acknowledge that these are important factors in long-COVID. These researchers have concluded that bolstering beneficial gut species depleted from COVID-19 could serve as a novel avenue to mitigate severe disease, underscoring the importance of managing patients’ gut microbiota during and after COVID-19.

Yacon New Zealand produces NZFOS+ Natural Prebiotic Superfood, proudly grown, packaged and made in New Zealand. The 100 percent pure New Zealand product has health benefits compared to Manuka Honey, widely recognised here in New Zealand.

Yacon extract has significantly higher contents of total phenolic, total flavonoid, and chlorogenic acid and has a significantly higher antioxidant capacity than Manuka Honey. 

In addition, the mineral contents such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, and sodium in Yacon extract are also higher than that in Manuka Honey. NZFOS+ Yacon prebiotic can increase the number of beneficial bacteria in the gut by 28 percent without introducing any new bacteria.

Additionally, NZFOS+ reduces the number of pathogenic bacteria by 17 percent because it can create an environment that harmful bacteria cannot survive. As good bacteria grow, they control the number of gut pathogens, rectifying dysbiosis and improving immunity. 

The development of beneficial bacteria increases short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production. SCFAs are essential to regulating immune cells and reducing inflammation, improving cytokine pathways and controlling the migration of immune cells. This is crucial in the immune response to viral infections. NZFOS+ Yacon prebiotic doubles SCFA production by providing a prebiotic for fermentation.

To protect against COVID-19 and other respiratory infections during the winter months, it is necessary to look after your gut health and practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently, wearing a mask in public places, and staying home if feeling unwell.