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Which pre-existing health conditions increase your coronavirus risk?

As the cases of coronavirus in the UK mount, we are beginning to confront the reality that not all infections are equally dangerous.

Most people infected will catch a mild version, in which case the latest advice is that you should stay at home instead of getting hospital treatment amid rising pressure on the NHS.

Only a small proportion of those infected face a fatal risk. Men are more at risk than women; children seem to be at very little risk. At the greatest risk of all are the elderly and those who have underlying health conditions.

A paper has just been published in the New England Journal of Medicine analysing the first 1,001 cases in Wuhan, so we now know which pre-existing health conditions are dangerous when it comes to coronavirus. They include: diabetes, heart disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and simple old age.1

At first glance, it’s a slightly odd mix. Diabetes? Why should diabetes predict fatality when you’re talking about a respiratory virus?

As a gut health expert who runs a team of Nutritional Therapists, this list makes sense to me. Here’s why: everything on this list is connected to the gut microbiome. At Chuckling Goat we do daily consultations with clients who have taken a Microbiome Test to determine the health of their gut microbiome, and so we are very aware of the impact that gut health has on all these diverse health issues.

In a nutshell, your gut is home to over 100 trillion living bacteria, called the microbiome. Think of your microbiome as a delicate natural ecosystem, like the Amazon rainforest. Your gut microbiota performs a number of vital functions, including production of vitamins, metabolization of dietary compounds, protection against the expansion and systemic infiltration of gut pathogens. Like any natural system, the one inside your gut is fragile, and can be easily damaged by common elements in modern life, including sugar, antibiotics, stress and chemicals. This damage is called “dysbiosis,” and it is linked with many different types of disease.2

Here’s how each of the risk factors for coronavirus are linked to the gut microbiome:

Diabetes – Type 1

Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is a chronic autoimmune disorder that results from destruction of the insulin‐producing pancreatic β‐cells. However, less than 10% of genetically susceptible people actually develop clinical T1D. This demonstrates that non‐genetic factors play a critical role in T1D. Microbial dysbiosis with altered permeability of the gut barrier has been well-documented in T1D subjects.3

Diabetes – Type 2

Studies have reported gut microbiome dysbiosis as a factor in T2D, which accounts for about 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide. The gut microbiome dysbiosis may reshape intestinal barrier functions and host metabolic and signaling pathways, which are related to the insulin resistance in T2D.4

Heart Disease

Gut dybsiosis has been shown to cause inflammation and metabolic disorders, leading to the development of cardiovascular disease.5 Changes in the composition of gut dysbiosis, have been firmly linked to pathologies such as atherosclerosis, hypertension and heart failure.6


Dysbiosis in gut microbiota has been implicated in several lung diseases, including allergy, asthma and cystic fibrosis. The bi-directional cross-talk between gut and lung (termed as Gut-Lung axis) is best exemplified by intestinal disturbances observed in lung diseases.7


Recent research has established the link between the lungs and the gut—the gut-lung axis -and the gut microbiome is a major component. The gut microbiome is likely perturbed in COPD, contributing to chronic inflammation.8


Over time, the multiple strains of bacteria inside the gut are depleted by exposure to drugs, sugar, chemicals, stress and toxins. This process deprives the gut microbiome of its resilience, as strains die off, and immunity is compromised. The gut microbiome is closely associated with several features of gut barrier integrity, intestinal pro- and anti-inflammatory balance, immune and cardio-metabolic health, and gut-brain axis. These old-age-related clinical issues have been found to contribute to the increased predisposition to various infectious and gut-associated diseases by causing alterations in the microbiota of elderly people. Studies suggest that the gut microbiota may be associated with inflammation and age-related chronic health conditions.10

Improving your gut health is a safe and natural way to boost your immunity and protect yourself against any virus or disease.

Top tip: make yourself a daily Gut Health smoothie, containing (per person):

  • 170 ml of an unflavoured, all-natural, multi-strain kefir daily. This puts the “good bugs” into your gut.
  • 10 g of a complete prebiotic powder. This feeds the good bugs that you’re adding to the microbiome, enhancing the benefit of the probiotic.
  • 1 TBSP of virgin cold-pressed flaxseed oil; anti-inflammatory for your gut and adds valuable Omega-3s.
  • If you’re over 30, add 1 TBSP fish collagen supplement daily. Collagen production begins to slow at age 25, and stops by age 50. Supplementing will help heal to heal the lining of the gut, which is only one cell thick and can get ripped and torn over time.
  • Handful of blueberries, antioxidant superfood.
  • Half banana, flavour, potassium and pectin, good for your gut bugs.


  1. Telegraph - "The underlying health conditions which affect how you cope with the coronavirus". Written by Maria Lally on March 9, 2020
    link to article
  2. Cancers - "Gut Microbiota and Cancer: From Pathogenesis to Therapy". Written by Vivarelli, S., Salemi, R., Candido, S., Falzone, L., Santagati, M., Stefani, S., Torino, F., Banna, G. L., Tonini, G., & Libra, M. on January 3, 2019
    link to article
  3. Journal of Diabetes - "Current understanding of the role of gut dysbiosis in type 1 diabetes". Written by Ahmed Abdellatif, Nora E. Sarvetnick on March 11, 2019
    link to article
  4. The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry - "Gut microbiome and type 2 diabetes: where we are and where to go?". Written by Sharma S, Tripathi P on January 6, 2019
    link to article
  5. Journal of cellular and molecular medicine - "The role of intestinal microbiota in cardiovascular disease". Written by Jin, M., Qian, Z., Yin, J., Xu, W., & Zhou, X. on February 3, 2019
    link to article
  6. Circulation research vol. 120 - "Gut Microbiota in Cardiovascular Health and Disease". Written by Tang, W. H., Kitai, T., & Hazen, S. L. on March 31, 2018
    link to article
  7. Frontiers in microbiology vol. 9 - "Diet, Microbiota and Gut-Lung Connection". Written by Anand, S., & Mande, S. S. on September 19, 2018
    link to article
  8. Journal of thoracic disease - "COPD and the gut-lung axis: the therapeutic potential of fibre". Written by Vaughan, A., Frazer, Z. A., Hansbro, P. M., & Yang, I. A. on October 11, 2019
    link to article
  9. Nutrition and healthy aging - "Gut microbiome and aging: Physiological and mechanistic insights". Written by Nagpal, R., Mainali, R., Ahmadi, S., Wang, S., Singh, R., Kavanagh, K., Kitzman, D. W., Kushugulova, A., Marotta, F., & Yadav, H. on June 15, 2018
    link to article

12 thoughts on “Which pre-existing health conditions increase your coronavirus risk?

    1. Hi Simran,

      Asthma is an inflammatory trigger, linked to your immune system which sits in the gut. Our Kefir will reduce inflammation around the body, boost the immune system as well as re-populate the microbiome with the healthy balance of good bacteria it needs to function properly 🙂

      We advise a minimum of 3 courses back-to-back before seeing optimum results.

      You may find this page useful:

      Best wishes,

  1. Hi thanks for this information can you advise why you have Recommended fish collagen – is beef collagen not as good.? Thanks Gail

    1. Hi Gail,

      After research and personal trial, Shann is now recommending fish collagen. Here’s why she now recommends fish collagen over other types: 

      1. Fish collagen peptides are known to have the best absorption and bioavailability due to their smaller particle sizes compared to other animal collagens. They’re absorbed up to 1.5 times more efficiently into the body. It’s considered the best collagen source for medicinal purposes and great for most diets, including the Paleo diet.

      2. It’s a type I collagen, which is the most abundant collagen in the human body. Type I is best known for providing the foundation for beautiful skin, strong connective tissues and sturdy bones. It’s sourced from the scales, skin, bones and fins of fresh or saltwater fish, so it’s sustainable and produced using elements that would otherwise be discarded.

      You can find Shann’s personal favourite here.

      Best wishes,

  2. Hi Shann . Great advice as ever. . Must say it is all very concerning . We get kefir every month can I ask can you just add the prebiotic to it or spring like it on porridge just how does one take it . I am thyroid autoimmune we are in or sixties . Hubby had a heart attack years ago . We have a son who had respiratory problems lived with us . He alas will not take supplements or kefir . We do and we have just bought a couple of bottles of cg oil . I am wondering if there is any efficacy in inhaling it through steM as a preventative. So glad you are there thriving and doing g the work you do . Thanks from highlands Scotland

    1. Hi Lee,

      Thank you so much for your lovely comments! 😊

      The Complete Prebiotic powder is very versatile – the powder can be cooked with or mixed with milk (goat, oat and unsweetened almond) – we don’t recommend mixing with fruit juice due to the sugar content. You can also mix it into a smoothie with the kefir or sprinkle on your porridge if you wish!

      With regards to your query on inhaling our CG Oil, you can find more information here:

      Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if there’s anything else we can help with!

      Best wishes,

  3. Reading the info on corona : can I use extra vergin olive oil instead of flax seed which really upsets my tum! I do have diaverticulitis but have it firmly under controll,take beetroot juice every day.Just started on Kiefa by the way I am 80 but very fitand active.a

    1. Hi Anne,

      If flaxseed oil is unsuitable, we’d recommend either 1 TBSP daily of coconut oil or MCT oil, you can find more information here:

      Here’s the link to the one that we recommend:

      That’s great! Diverticulitis has an auto-immune component which means they stem from issues in the gut. Kefir will help you as it’s a natural probiotic which will re-populate and re-establish the microbiome with the healthy balance of good bacteria it needs to function properly.

      Read more info on how Kefir can be helpful for diverticulitis here:

      We hope that you are keeping safe and well 😊

      Best wishes,

  4. I have been told I have MGNO when I was in hospital kept isolated after operation last year been in and out since sometimes isolated sometimes not what do I do I have on going bowel problems

    1. Hi Janet,

      Kefir specialises in gut, digestive and bowel issues. As a natural, probiotic drink, the kefir will re-populate the gut with the healthy balance of good bacteria it needs to function properly, so symptoms stemming from the gut, including cramping, bloating and uncomfortable bowel movements, will follow suit and alleviate.

      We’d also recommend our CG Oil – some CG Oil uses are as follows:

      3-6 drops in a sink of warm water – wash affected areas with a clean flannel/cotton pads.
      4-8 drops in a bath – soak before any op or in case of widespread infection.
      1-3 drops diluted in water and in an oil diffuser to fill the room with a gorgeous scent.

      You can find our CG Oil, here:

      I hope this helps. 😊

      Best wishes,

  5. I’m wondering about auto immune diseases. These make people immune compromised and many of the medicines utilised to manage these conditions, such as prednisone; a steroid enhances this effect by suppressing the immune system. Do you know of any data on this?; I know lot of people who are understandably concerned

    1. Hi Tracie,

      You’re correct – steroid drugs, such as prednisone, work by lowering the activity of the immune system. The immune system is your body’s defense system. Steroids work by slowing your body’s response to disease or injury. Not ideal at a time when you want to prevent infection. More on prednisone here:

      We hope that you’re keeping safe and well. 😊

      Best wishes,

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