Friendly gut bacteria could hold the secret to overcoming long Covid, a new scientific study has found.
Patients suffering with long-term effects of the coronavirus were given specially formulated capsules containing a blend of five probiotics.
The study, led by experts from Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge, the University of Bedfordshire and Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, involved 126 people over the course of a year.
A third of them had an acute Covid infection and the majority reported a wide variety of longer-term symptoms which had lasted more than 100 days.
While involved in the research, they found coughs, fatigue, gut issues and their well-being all improved.
Among the participants was alternative therapist Carol-Ann Barrett from Bishop's Stortford in Essex. She has been coping with long Covid and thought her diet was already pretty good.
"But I did notice a dramatic effect," she said. "It definitely is great for my digestive system and definitely I have more energy. Hopefully it's increasing my immunity too."
Study leader Prof Robert Thomas, an oncology consultant at Addenbrooke's and Bedford Hospitals, said the results of the study were a good incentive for everyone to try to improve their gut health through their diet.
He believes it shows a better diet - which can be achieved simply by picking up the right things in the supermarket - could help prevent some Covid infections as well as easing the symptoms.
"It's a hard call just before Christmas," he said. "But it's reducing the sugar intake, excess meat, stopping smoking, exercising, eating foods which are full of healthy bacteria such as kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and eating the foods called prebiotics which help to feed the healthy bacteria - artichokes, beans, herbs and fibre-rich fruit and vegetables."
The study will now be extended to see if adding vitamin D to the mix could enhance antibody levels in people who had had their vaccinations.