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  • COVID-19, Gut Bacteria & Resveratrol

    April 24, 2021: by Bill Sardi with Matthew Sardi

    Resveratrol continues to astound researchers and the public alike. Not only does resveratrol exhibit virucidal properties (virus killing), it works indirectly in the gastric tract to reduce intestinal permeability (leaky gut). It accomplishes this via its anti-inflammatory properties.


    Resveratrol is a prebiotic, not a probiotic. Consumers are more familiar with probiotics like acidophilus and Bifidus sold in health shops.

    Probiotics (non-pathogenetic bacteria) have been commonly used to repopulate the digestive tract and promote health, particularly after a course of antibiotics.

    Foods are probiotic. An intriguing study in Europe reveals the consumption of fermented vegetables (example-cabbage as sauerkraut) reduced mortality risk by 35.4% for each gram of food. The following graphic is compelling.

    Chart: Consumption of fermented foods and deaths per million

    A troubling finding is that among recovered COVID-19 patients the microbial richness in their gut was not restored to normal 6 months after recovery.  This may explain long-term symptoms among recovered COVID-19 patients.

    Although no direct evidence is currently available about the association between COVID-19 infections and bacterial changes in both the gut and the respiratory tract, the presence of symptoms like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort, suggests that interactions between this new coronavirus and the gut microbiota are possible.

    Antibiotics are commonly used to treat COVID-19 patients and diarrhea often occurs thereafter. However, diarrhea is also a symptom of COVID-19 so it is difficult to ascertain whether the antibiotic or the virus causes the diarrhea.

    While direct evidence may be lacking, there are suggestions that healthy gut bacteria help as a secondary symptomatic remedy for COVID-19.

    In one meta-study involving twelve controlled trials (with a total of 3720 subjects), the provision of healthy bacteria (“probiotics”) was able to reduce the number of acute upper respiratory tract infections (-42%), the duration of disease, the need for antibiotics (-33%), and cold-related school absences compared to an inactive placebo. But the common cold is not COVID-19.

    The provision of acid-forming bacteria (Acidophilus) among patients with COVID-19 who had diarrhea, 92.9% were controlled with 72 hours whereas less than 50% were controlled within 7 days in the un-supplemented group.

    Bacteria In Gut And Lung

    There is cross talk between the gut and the lung. Inflammation in the gut is thought to cause inflammation in the lungs. When probiotics are given to COVID-19 patients on mechanical ventilators they develop less pneumonia with reduced mortality.


    More recently prebiotics have gained attention. Prebiotics are molecules that promote the growth of many strains of bacteria rather than just one. Known prebiotics are resveratrol, quercetin, beta glucan, inulin, garlic, onions, asparagus, and many others.

    A class of molecules known as polyphenols such as resveratrol, quercetin, fisetin, are strong prebiotics.

    Powerful proof that polyphenols are prebiotics is a study that compared dealcoholized wine, wine, and alcohol spirits. The dealcoholized wine was equivalent to a red wine resveratrol pill. The dealcoholized wine produced the most demonstrable effect on gut bacteria and significantly decreased liver enzymes and blood pressure, as well as triglycerides.

    Unexpectedly resveratrol reverses and inhibits the effect of bacteria in the gut by maintaining the intestinal lining. Therefore, leaky gut is inhibited. Leaky gut is associated with food allergies.  Leaky gut is a feature of COVID-19.

    Of particular interest is the fact high-fat diets increase intestinal permeability (allowance of undigested proteins to enter the blood circulation) and obesity are associated with COVID-19. Resveratrol alleviates inflammation and favorably alters gut bacteria and in the obese.

    Acute respiratory distress syndrome, which COVID-19 is categorized, involves a bacterium called Staphylococcal enterotoxin B (SEB). A significant number of COVID-19 patients develop this infection which results in a 40% mortality rate.

    In laboratory mice administered SEB, 100% died. When these same mice were treated with resveratrol, mortality plunged and gut bacteria, namely Lactobacillus reuteri, increased in both the lungs and colon. No Lactobacillus reuteri was supplemented. Resveratrol, working as a prebiotic, enhanced its growth naturally.

    A prior report at educates that resveratrol blocks all pathways of COVID-19 infection. Now we can add the promotion of healthy gut bacteria to the list of beneficial properties of resveratrol.

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