Microbiome Imbalanced? You Could be at Increased Risk of Experiencing Severe COVID-19 Symptoms

3 min read



A recent study has uncovered the possibility that if you do get COVID-19, your microbiome may be able to determine how severe your symptoms will be.1


Researchers in Hong Kong found that “gut microbiome composition was significantly altered in patients with COVID-19 compared with non-COVID-19 individuals.” In fact, they found a link between how unhealthy the patient’s microbiome was and how severe their symptoms were.1


But what does it mean for your microbiome to be unhealthy? The research describes the problem as “dysbiosis” — meaning that the microbiome is imbalanced.


An imbalanced microbiome means you have too much of some bacteria and not enough of another. When this happens, the whole system gets thrown off and can’t do its job.


And it turns out that many of the imbalances that these COVID-19 patients had were very similar to the kind of bacterial imbalances associated with IBD and IBS—such as decreased levels of the bacterium, faecalibacterium prausnitzii, and increased levels of the bacterium, ruminococcus torques.2


This is why an imbalanced microbiome is such a problem: not only is it associated with digestive diseases, it can affect many aspects of how your body works — or how you fight off a deadly virus.


Researchers analyzing data from multiple studies on COVID-19 found growing evidence that an imbalanced microbiome leaves the normally “well-protected” gut lining weak and vulnerable, allowing the virus to enter the circulatory system — leading to some of the severe, multi-organ problems suffered by some patients.3


And the negative effects of an imbalanced microbiome go beyond the gut.


Even before the pandemic, a study was published that explored how an imbalanced microbiome could lead to ‘abnormal’ immune reactions.4 These abnormal reactions, called “cytokine storms”, are one of the things that make some COVID-19 patients really sick. An imbalanced gut microbiome disrupts the immune system and, when it’s time to fight off a serious virus, the immune system can go awry and end up hurting us instead of just doing its job.


By now you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I know if my gut microbiome is imbalanced?”


It’s an important question and one that we think everyone should have the answer to. At Phyla, we’re working to help you answer that question and take the steps necessary to rebalance your gut microbiome — or keep it balanced if you’re doing well!


We’re launching the Phyla microbiome testing service in February 2021. And if you join our email list today, you’ll receive 40% off your first test kit when the service launches.


For more on the microbiome and how you might be able to change it, check out our recent blog posts here.



1https://gut.bmj.com/content/early/2021/01/04/gutjnl-2020-323020

2https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6579922

3https://mbio.asm.org/content/12/1/e03022-20

4https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27814509/