The bacteria in our guts are typically associated with what we eat. They help break down food, they keep our colons healthy. Yet, two new studies published this year indicate a strong connection between gut bacteria and a number of non-GI related health conditions.
One study undertaken by a team of Danish researchers sought to determine any relationships between a person’s insulin resistance and the balance of gut bacteria. It involved 277 non-diabetic patients and 75 with type 2 diabetes. They observed a correlation between insulin resistance and an imbalance in gut microbiota. Certain participants – who were insulin resistant – were noted to have elevated blood levels of a specific amino acid group, that affects the composition of particular gut bacteria.
“We show that specific imbalances in the gut microbiota are essential contributors to insulin resistance, a forerunner state of widespread disorders like type 2 diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases, which are in epidemic growth,” says Professor Oluf Pedersen, Metabolism Center, University of Copenhagen, who co-authored the study.
A growing number of Americans each year are diagnosed as having diabetes. Knowing that the state of our gut health plays a key role in its prevention may pay closer attention to what they consume. Researchers suggest that switching to a diet of “less calorie-dense” food can often rectify this problem.
Another study also claims that our gut health can predict whether or not we are susceptible to rheumatoid arthritis. Currently, professionals are unsure of the precise cause of RA, an auto-immune disease that makes the body’s immune system attack itself. This leads to inflammation which leaves the sufferer with painful, swollen joints.
However, an immunologist at the Mayo Clinic’s Center for Individualized Medicine, Veena Taneja, Ph.D., recently published a paper linking the state of gut microbiota to our likelihood of contracting rheumatoid arthritis.
“Using genomic sequencing technology, we were able to pin down some gut microbes that were normally rare and of low abundance in healthy individuals, but expanded in patients with rheumatoid arthritis,” Dr. Taneja says. Not only were the Mayo team able to isolate specific microbes as rheumatoid arthritis markers, they discovered a specific microbe that can lessen the symptoms of the disease.
They conducted a second study wherein they gave a group of “arthritis-suspected” mice a specific bacteria and compared them to another group that were not given the bacteria. The results show that those given the treatment had “decreased symptom frequency and severity, and fewer inflammatory conditions associated with rheumatoid arthritis. The treatment produced fewer side effects, such as weight gain and villous atrophy — a condition that prevents the gut from absorbing nutrients — that may be linked with other, more traditional treatments.”
Modern times have seen antibiotic usage on the rise which can severely disrupt the natural balance of bacteria in our guts. This is why taking so many antibiotics can be dangerous; we’re only just beginning to understand how the various bacterias in the body contribute to our immune system. Being able to prevent diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis through monitoring this delicate environment is a huge breakthrough. Additional studies, including one published in Microbiome journal in July 2016, also draw conclusions that fewer gut microbiota and less diversity of that bacteria is likely connected to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, a condition that has been long-considered a psychological disorder.
There’s many ways that you can boost your gut health, and promote the growth of healthy bacteria. Kombucha, krauts and kim chis contain billions of strains of bacteria, they’re easy to make at home or purchase at your local organic supermarket. Making your own bone broth is another highly recommended route for bolstering your gut strength.
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