Gut Health and Long COVID

Why do some people test clear for COVID, but still not recover?

How does it suddenly reappear in the blood? Where was it hiding? 

Various studies have shown a correlation between ‘long covid’ symptoms and ongoing presence of spike proteins in the body. This article tracks the discovery of Sars Cov 2 spike proteins hiding in the intestines, the connections with ‘leaky gut’ & ‘gluten sensitivity’, and how to maintain gut health to support the body in its detoxification processes. Let’s deep dive and see what is going on with Long COVID.

In 2020 Center for Gut Microbiota Research in Hong Kong University published a finding that people living with long covid had distinct changes in their gut microbiota (intestinal flora, good bacteria). They discovered correlations between specific bacteria levels and different symptoms. Professor Siew C. Ng Ph D stated “our study demonstrated the association between [a persistently] altered gut microbiome and long COVID, which also suggests that there is an opportunity to ameliorate these symptoms by regulating the gut microbiome.”

Prof. Ng suggested measures including gut healthy diets, avoiding antibiotics and potentially probiotic supplements, but it would be some time before other researchers confirmed this idea.

Alterations in Gut Microbiota of Patients With COVID-19, showing how the virus moves through the intestinal walls into the bloodstream.
Normally good bacteria keep a wall between gut and bloodstream, Covid patients have less of these bacteria, and toxins break through the wall, leaking from intestines into bloodstream. Long COVID is when this isn't repaired and toxins keep leaking out.

1st confirmation

April 2022 a study from Stamford University showed that 4% of patients are still shedding virus in their faeces 7 months after infection, correlated with gastrointestinal disturbance.

2nd confirmation

May 2022 another study from University of Innsbruch, Austria published in Gastroenterology showed 70% of irritable bowel sufferers still had presence of spike proteins or other viral components in intestines 7 months after infection, strongly correlated with memory decline, fatigue, smell loss, headache etc.

3rd confirmation

June 2022 Walt et al from Harvard published in Clinical Infectious diseases that in 65% of long covid cases, they detected spike protein still in the body up to 12 months after infection, suggesting there was a reservoir where toxins were hiding.

Leaky Gut Connection

They noted that multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) was correlated with a loss of gut mucosal barrier, and showed that in children with MIS-C, a prolonged presence of SARS-Cov-2 in the GI tract led to the intestinal permeability ‘leaky gut’ syndrome (identified by release of Zonulin.)

(Zonulin is a protein which causes gaps in intestinal wall, it is the same protein released when gluten sensitive people eat gluten. Zonulin opens the ‘tight junctions’ of intestinal wall often for good reason, but once those tight junctions are broken open, toxins leak into the bloodstream, so Zonulin is considered a biomarker for intestinal permeability (leaky gut))

The Zonulin release in these children opening the intestinal wall subsequently releases spike proteins and other SARS-Cov2 sub-particles into the bloodstream, leading to hyper inflammation of multiple organs and systems.

Previous treatments for long COVID only targeted the inflammation, and didn’t get to the source – the integrity of the gut’s mucosal barrier, so researchers tried Lorazotide, a Zonulin inhibitor (experimental drug for leaky gut) and found that the levels of spike protein in the blood dropped, strongly suggesting that the gut was the source of the toxins causing long covid symptoms.

Age Related Leaky Gut

These studies focused on the condition in children, but an added complexity is the issue of age related decline of gut integrity and age related hyper inflammation meaning likelihood of leaky gut syndrome, and as a result long COVID, can increase with age.


These discoveries explain why spike proteins can still be circulating in the blood long after exposure. We now know that it is hiding in the gut, and leaking out into bloodstream through intestinal walls. It’s particularly relevant for those with gluten sensitivity, leaky gut syndrome or age related gut integrity issues, and we have seen that managing gut health (including Zonulin levels) can reduce levels of viral toxins (including spike protein) entering the blood stream and causing inflammation of organs, fatigue, memory issues etc.

Is there a way to dissolve spike proteins in the body?

Our Spike Detox formula contains natural ingredients such as Bromelain,  and N-AcetylCysteine which together were shown in cell studies to break down spike proteins, suggesting that they can support the body’s natural processes for detoxifying from spike proteins, but what else can you do to support your gut health?

Is there a way to support age related intestine integrity?

Researchers from the Jiangxi Academy of Sciences in China report that nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), a molecule capable of boosting nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), protects against age-related intestinal dysfunction. Ru and colleagues show that NMN boosts NAD+ and restores intestinal wall structure in older mice. They also show that NMN increases genes associated with gut barrier integrity.

In another experiment it was shown that nicotinamide riboside (NR) rejuvenated intestinal stem cells in aged mice, reversing impaired ability to repair gut damage. This research is in animals shows that NMN+NR support gut integrity, and sets the stage for clinical studies in humans later. If the findings translate to humans it would mean products like REWIND (NMN+NR) may one day be recognised nutraceutical support for gut health.

Can probiotics help leaky gut and long COVID?

Coming back to where we started, the Hong Kong University Gut Microbiota Researchers recommended probiotics.

There are food sources of probiotics including fermented foods, such as some yogurts and kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, and tempeh and many supplements with 1,2 or ten or more different strains. Have these ideas been tested?

Clinical trials have shown that probiotics reduce Zonulin levels in other situations, how about probiotics to support recovery from the current viruses?

Professor Robert Thomas Cambridge University Hospital in UK carried out a trial studying probiotics for long covid. The experiment used a probiotic formulation alongside herbal anti-inflammatories from turmeric, green tea, quercetin & resveratrol. These herbs work in a similar way to ibuprofen (COX2 inhibitor) but in a way that protects gastric mucosa instead of damaging it.

The result is that long covid sufferers taking the formulation had a two fold reduction in fatigue scores versus those with placebo, a threefold reduction in cough and almost double scores in well being.

The study involved 5 butyrate enhancing probiotics, Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Lactococcus lactis, Lactobacillus paracasei – we don’t have a product like that available at our website right now.

We suggest asking at your pharmacy for the best probiotic and being aware of the way that probiotics interact with intestinal wall management and paying attention to gluten in the diet if there is sensitivity.

How to Support Gut Health

What other measures to consider for supporting a healthy gut?

Do Eat

1 drink 8-10 glasses of water per day

2 increase vitamin d intake

3 consume RDI of zinc to protect barrier

4 eat probiotic foods

5 support healthy bacteria with probiotics

6 follow anti-inflammatory diet

7 cook fruits and vegetables instead of raw

Don't Eat

1 avoid gluten if you have sensitivity

2 moderate any alcohol

3 eliminate as many added sugars as you can

4 cut foods you have allergy to

5 reduce dairy intake if lactose intolerant


1 reduce stress to protect your digestive health

2 exercise regularly

3 take a walk after eating to aid digestion

4 quit smoking

5 take probiotics