Lactobacillus Reuteri Immune Benefits Amid COVID-19
Most people are looking to stay healthy amid the current pandemic, but few consider immune-balancing probiotics like Lactobacillus reuteri. Does any evidence suggest that this probiotic species can help fight COVID-19?
No research supports the use of any supplement to treat or prevent COVID-19. Protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding crowds and close contact with people who are sick, and following the latest WHO advice for the public.
Probiotics & the Immune System in COVID-19
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with weakened immune systems are more likely to get COVID-19 and suffer severe symptoms.
Your gut is home to billions of “good” bacteria—collectively known as the gut microbiome—that help boost your immune system and fight off foreign invaders. Preliminary data from China reveal that some COVID-19 patients have an unhealthy gut flora (microbial dysbiosis) with decreased Lactobacillus bacteria.
Can Lactobacillus Reuteri Protect Against COVID-19?
Recent studies state that probiotics may help flatten the curve by making people more resilient to viral infections. Certain probiotic strains are also hypothesized to reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms and complications, possibly by balancing the immune response. Prebiotics might play in by “feeding” probiotics and enhancing their beneficial effects.
Lactobacillus reuteri (L. reuteri) is a well-studied probiotic species that can secrete a cocktail of antimicrobial compounds. These compounds are meant to prevent viruses from spreading in the whole body—not just in the gut. For example, in one study, L. reuteri applied into the nose protected mice from a deadly respiratory virus that causes pneumonia.
Additionally, probiotics may reduce respiratory damage from COVID-19 by activating gut-lung communication. Studies have yet to investigate L. reuteri, but the results on similar probiotics (L. rhamnosus and B. Subtilis and E. faecalis) are promising. In two studies, COVID-19 patients on ventilators who were given probiotics were less likely to get pneumonia. However, more research is needed.
Lactobacillus Reuteri Boosts Vitamin D Levels
Supplementing with the Microbiome Plus strain of L. reuteri (NCIMB 30242) increased vitamin D3 blood levels by 25.5% in a Canadian clinical trial of 123 people.
Most people get enough vitamin D from the sun, but where you live can make a difference. According to one study, countries in the Southern Hemisphere have fewer COVID-19 deaths, possibly due to higher vitamin D levels in the population.
People with chronic diseases and the elderly, who are at the greatest risk of dying from COVID-19, are more likely to be deficient in vitamin D. The strongest link between COVID-19 deaths and old age was discovered in countries where severe vitamin D deficiency is more frequent.
With the lockdown in place to help control the pandemic, people are now faced with fewer opportunities to get natural sunlight exposure. Hence, low vitamin D levels may become a worldwide issue. Coupled with the fact that some people don’t respond to vitamin D supplements, L. reuterimay turn out to be a good add-on strategy for preventing deficiency.
To sum it up, there is no evidence to recommend L. reuteri for COVID-19 prevention or treatment. However, L. reuterimay support general wellness and immune health, along with a healthy diet and lifestyle. People with gut dysbiosis, immune imbalances, and vitamin D deficiency may be good candidates for supplementation.
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