COVID cases are spiking again and President Biden's approval rating is tanking. More and more Americans are getting vaccinated, but more vaccinated people are testing positive for COVID.
So what more can you do to give yourself the maximum protection from the virus? The answer lies in your gut.
A new survey released this week shows President Biden's approval fell 10 points since June from 62 to 52 percent as the government pushes new vaccine and mask mandates.
On Tuesday, he called for tighter restrictions to combat the highly contagious Delta variant.
Biden said, "All federal workers must report their vaccination status or be subject to strict requirements. I directed my administration to take steps to apply similar standards to all federal contractors. If you want to do business with the federal government get your workers vaccinated. I also directed the Pentagon to look at adding COVID -19 to the list of vaccinations that are required for our troops."
While COVID cases are reaching levels not seen since February, vaccinations are also up by 24-percent in the last two weeks. That pushes the total number of partially vaccinated adults past the 70-percent mark.
Now, however, more vaccinated people are testing positive for COVID, although most of these breakthrough cases avoid hospitalization and death.
While a majority of doctors say vaccination offers the best protection, another layer includes a strong immune system.
You might not know it, but 80-percent of our immune system resides in the intestines which is home to trillions of bacteria. Doctors say too much bad and not enough good bacteria can lead to pre-existing conditions that put COVID patients at the greatest risk.
Gut microbiome specialist Dr. Steven Gundry said, "An altered microbiome causes high blood pressure, causes autoimmune disease, I believe causes heart disease, and certainly is a major cause of diabetes, prediabetes and the unbelievable obesity epidemic that we have."
On the other hand, building up favorable bacteria can possibly lead to a long, and happy, life.
One new study out of Japan could have found evidence to bear that out. It compared the intestinal makeup of 160 centenarians, average age of 107, to that of two younger groups – one age 85 to 89 and the other age 21 to 55. It turns out those who lived to 100 and beyond appear to have special gut bacteria that produce by-products that help ward off infections that the younger folks didn't carry.
Psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen said, "Well a lot of people don't connect gut health to immunity and also to brain health. But they're totally interconnected."
Amen says the so-called gut-brain axis along the vagus nerve means, for better or worse, our microbiome directly affects our moods.
"When it becomes unhealthy, we're sadder, we're more anxious, and we don't fight off illnesses, like COVID-19, nearly as effectively as if we had a healthy microbiome," he said.
So while the coronavirus pandemic rages on, health experts say there's no better time than the present to strengthen our immune system. Step one: build a better gut.
Your health is important. Do you have questions about nutrition, weight loss, boosting immunity or medicine? Learn more here!