Diet, Probiotics and Their Impact on the Gut Microbiota during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Nutrients. 2021 Sep 11;13(9):3172. doi: 10.3390/nu13093172.


SARS-CoV-2 infection is associated with diverse clinical manifestations, immune dysfunction, and gut microbiota alterations. The nutritional and biochemical quality of one's diet can influence the intestinal microbiota, which may play a role in the defense mechanisms against potential pathogens, by promoting a wide variety of immune-host interactions. In the COVID-19 pandemic, besides the development of pharmacological therapies, a healthy balanced diet, rich with food-derived antioxidants, may be a useful strategy. Many studies demonstrated that vitamins and probiotic therapies have positive effects on the treatment and prevention of oxidative stress and inflammation in COVID-19. The ecology of the gut microbiota in the digestive tract has been linked to the transport function of the host receptor known as angiotensin converting enzyme 2 (ACE2), suggesting that COVID-19 may be related to the gut microbiota. The angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE), and its receptor (ACE2), play central roles in modulating the renin-angiotensin system (RAS). In addition, ACE2 has functions that act independently of the RAS. ACE2 is the receptor for the SARS coronavirus, and ACE2 is essential for the expression of neutral amino acid transporters in the gut. In this context, ACE2 modulates innate immunity and influences the composition of the gut microbiota. Malnutrition is one of the leading underlying causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide and, including comorbidities, may be a major cause of worse outcomes and higher mortality among COVID-19 patients. This paper reviews the research on dietary components, with particular emphasis on vitamins, antioxidants, and probiotic therapies, and their impacts on the intestinal microbiota's diversity during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; diet; microbiota; pandemic.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2
  • COVID-19*
  • Diet*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Inflammation
  • Probiotics*
  • Renin-Angiotensin System


  • ACE2 protein, human
  • Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2