ur gut microbiome (bacteria) has been linked extensively to our health, whether it’s our immune system, brain function, mood disorders, as well as our hormonal health. Billions of bacteria line our intestinal tract and are important in protecting us, additionally these bacteria have a considerable role to play in the balance of our body’s immune defences. Disturbances in our bacteria lead to an altered ability to maintain the immune system’s normal function, giving rise to inflammatory reactions and autoimmune triggers. These inflammatory reactions cause a great deal of injury to many systems of the body, including the joints. Altered gut bacteria has already been studied for years to be one of the environmental triggers for the development of rheumatoid arthritis (an autoimmune form of arthritis).
“focusing on improving our gut health and restoring our intestinal bacteria can have profound effects on pain and inflammation”
With increasing research linking disturbances in our native gut bacteria to many clinical diseases, including arthritis, we must shift our focus to preserving and improving our microbiome for better health outcomes. There are many known causes of diminished or altered gut bacteria; wide-spread antibiotic use (which kills both good and bad bacteria), increase in Cesarean-sections which prevent the baby acquiring their gut bacteria from mothers vaginal tract during delivery, as well as diets and lifestyle choices which cause injury to our digestive tracts and subsequently our intestinal bacteria. Based on this new research, focusing on improving our gut health and restoring our intestinal bacteria can have profound effects on pain and inflammation of arthritis, especially the autoimmune types.
Ways to improve our gut bacteria:
- Take a good broad-spectrum probiotic supplement
- Decrease inflammatory foods such as refined wheat, refined sugar, processed foods (cookies, cakes, chips), fatty fried foods
- Increase anti-inflammatory foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, lean meats, and healthy oils such as olive and coconut oils
- Eat fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, organic yogurt and kefir) which are naturally high in good bacteria
- Avoid using hand-sanitizers and other antibacterial cleansers.
- Spend more time outdoors in nature. This helps us diversify the bacteria we are exposed to, which helps builds bigger stronger colonies of our intestinal bacteria.
Our health is in our hands. Take into consideration the list above and know that even minimal changes can lead to great gains.
1) The Gut and Athritis. The evidence grows. Rheumatology. Medscape Today. http://www.medpagetoday.com/Rheumatology/Arthritis/490742) Scher J, Abramson S. The microbiome and rheumatoid arthritis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3275101/3) Scher et al. Expansion of intestinal Prevotella copri correlates with enhanced susceptibility to arthritis. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/241920394) Kohn D. Joint Pain, From the Gut. http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/01/joint-pain-from-the-gut/383772/