Until very recently, most people had no clue of the importance of gut health. In fact, if you even mentioned gut health, some people might have thought you were talking about having 6-pack abs.
But new research over the last decade has clearly shown us that the health of our GI tract, meaning the health of the beneficial bacteria that live in our guts, plays a huge role in our overall health.
This makes a lot of sense when you realize that 80% of our immune system is located in our gut.
Meet Your Microbe
Right this minute, as you read these words, your body harbors trillions of microbes in the form of bacteria, viruses, yeasts and other microscopic critters. Though you can’t see them with the naked eye, these trillions of microbes make up what is called your microbiome, which is just a fancy name for the collective grouping of these trillions of living organisms.
To give you an idea of just how many trillions of microbes your body is currently housing, your microbes outnumber your human cells 10 to 1. Okay, that’s a LOT of microbes.
But what happens when you have more bad bacteria in your gut than beneficial bacteria? Nothing good. From obesity to allergies to skin rashes and arthritis, we are discovering that when the bad guys in your gut are winning, your overall health takes a major hit.
So, what causes your microbiome to become out of order? Why do some people have more bad bacteria living in their gut than good bacteria?
Different things can throw off the ratio of good to bad bacteria. Things like poor diet, stress and taking prescription medications (most notably antibiotics) can all kill off the good bacteria, thus allowing the bad bacteria to thrive.
Think of how many times throughout your life you have been on a course of antibiotics maybe for strep throat or a dental procedure. Did you make sure to take a probiotic after your treatment was over?
Think of all of the sugar and fast food and processed garbage you may have eaten over the course of your life.
Think of all of the stress you have experienced over your life.
At any point have you taken a probiotic or made sure to eat fermented foods to help replenish the beneficial bacteria who may have fallen victim to these drugs, poor food choices and stress?
Probably not. And it’s not necessarily your fault. We were never taught how to repair our microbiome. The medical community simply didn’t know then what it is beginning to uncover now.
Studies Uncover the Link Between Arthritis and Gut Health
While it has taken many medical professionals many years to connect the dots between gut health and other health-related issues, one doctor, Dr. B. Robert Mozayeni, a rheumatologist and researcher in Bethesda, Maryland, has been saying for years now that there is an obvious connection between microbiome health and conditions like arthritis.
In a study conducted in 2012, Mozayeni and his colleagues found that Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients had a higher-than-normal prevalence of Bartonella antibodies. While more tests will need to be conducted, this one definitely suggests a strong link between gut microbiome and conditions like arthritis.
A study from 2013 conducted by rheumatologists at New York University found that patients with RA were more likely to have the bacteria Prevotella copri in their intestinal tracts than patients without the disease. The same study showed that the presence of P. copri corresponded with a loss of healthy microbes in the gut. These studies and others are bringing to light that somehow bacteria are able to trigger an autoimmune response that leads to joint inflammation.
The theory so far is that the microbes in our guts help prepare our immune systems to fend off invaders. But an unbalanced microbiome community leads to a misguided immune response.
“Your microbiome plays a major role in your immune system, constantly providing protection from illness of which many of us are unaware. Autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, occupy a prominent position among diseases that have long been thought to have a genetic component that is triggered by microorganisms … Specifically, increased levels of the bacterium Prevotella copri is correlated with the reduction of beneficial microbes such as Bacteroides, leading to inflammation in the body,” says Kathleen DiChiara, an author and functional diagnostic nutrition practitioner.
So What Can You Do?
If you are currently living with the pain and stiffness of arthritis, it’s important to do two things:
1) Make better lifestyle choices. As I mentioned, the beneficial bacteria in your gut can be killed off by stress, medications and poor diet. Arthritis patients should absolutely clean up their diet and stop eating processed foods laden with sugar and trans fats. Instead, opt for whole foods like meat, fish, dairy, veggies and fruits.
Also, combat the effects of stress as much as you can. Exercise is great for this, as is meditation, yoga, tai chi, and spending more time in nature.
2) Start eating more probiotic foods such as yogurt, kim chi, sauerkraut, or any other fermented food, or by taking a probiotic supplement.
You can also take some advice from medical professionals who are well versed in the connection between autoimmune diseases and gut health. One such person is Sarah Lawrence, member of the American Association of Drugless Practitioners and health coach who has said, “For autoimmune arthritis I work with a protocol of high dose probiotics, fermented foods, and gut supportive supplements like coconut oil and l-glutamine, in addition to an anti-inflammatory diet that’s rich in fiber and prebiotics. Look for probiotics that contain S. salivarius and B. coagulans, since they have been shown to have great immunomodulating effects.”
While there is still no conclusive evidence of what exactly causes arthritis, studies now strongly suggest that gut health plays a large part in the development of many autoimmune diseases. Making healthier lifestyle choices while ensuring you get enough probiotics into your diet should help relieve some joint pain and stiffness.
And speaking of relieving joint pain and stiffness, would you like to learn how one doctor completely cured himself of arthritis? Countless patients have already gotten rid of their joint pain and stiffness for good by following this doctor’s all-natural protocol.