For quite some time now alternative medicine doctors and integrative health practitioners have expounded the benefits of a healthy microbiome – the community of bacteria that resides within our digestive system. Now, with overwhelming evidence coming from the scientific community at large, the traditional medical establishment is beginning to take note and has a better understanding of the direct, causal relationship between gut bacteria and the onset and proliferation of diseases and disorders.
A recent study underscores the importance of maintaining healthy gut bacteria levels in the prevention and treatment of autoimmune disorders. The study, published in June of 2016, noted a distinct difference in the microbiome of healthy individuals, compared to those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), including MS patients who were receiving treatment at the time of the study.
To perform the analysis, scientists collected fecal samples from three categories of people: healthy individuals without Multiple Sclerosis, those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and receiving no treatment, and those diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis and receiving treatment.
As compared to the healthy study participants, scientists documented an increase in specific bacteria species in both of the MS groups. Untreated MS patients showed higher levels of methanobrevibacter. This species of bacteria is known as a pro-inflammatory microbe and is associated with medical conditions such as periodontitis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease. In addition, patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis were shown to have more than three times the amount of methanobrivibacter smithii bacteria when mucosal samples were tested. This form of bacteria is also seen, quite often, in obese children. The untreated Multiple Sclerosis subjects also exhibited higher levels of akkermansia – another pro-inflammatory bacteria species.
When reviewing fecal samples of the Multiple Sclerosis group undergoing treatment at the time of the study, scientists discovered that they too possessed higher levels of pro-inflammatory bacteria. However, their microbiome was populated with an abundance of alternative species such as prevotella, sutterella, collinsella, and slakia. Just as with the previously mentioned forms of bacteria, these species are known to cause a host of medical conditions, all with one thing in common – systemic inflammation.
Elevated levels of prevotella copri can be found in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and, in mouse studies, these bacteria have also been proven to exacerbate colitis. In addition, collinsella and slakia are linked to inflammatory bowel disease.
The Danger of Internal Inflammation
Just as inflammation occurs when you cut your finger or develop an infection, resulting in swelling or a fever, your body automatically reacts to try and heal itself when internal inflammation occurs as well. Therefore, the inflammation resulting from these bacteria sets off an immune system response, activating the production of killer T-cells. This is why all of the aforementioned medical conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, are considered to be autoimmune diseases or autoimmune disorders – your body literally begins to attack itself in an ironic effort to save you, the host.
Another Concern For Multiple Sclerosis Patients
As if the pro-inflammatory bacteria weren’t bad enough, scientists discovered another cause for concern in one of the Multiple Sclerosis groups. Compared to the two other groups, untreated MS study participants showed reduced levels of the bacteria, butyriciomona. This is alarming due to the fact that butyriciomona produces butyrates – short-chain fatty acids that help to eliminate inflammation, decrease oxidative stress, regulate gene expression, and strengthen the intestinal barrier, whereby protecting the human body against many diseases, including the top two fatal diseases in the United States – cancer and heart disease. Low levels of butyrates are also associated with numerous autoimmune and inflammatory diseases including, but not limited to, rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel disease.
How To Repopulate And Protect Your Microbiome
There are many things you can do to ensure that your gut bacteria are healthy and balanced, to reduce your chance of developing diseases and disorders:
- Take quality pre-biotic and pro-biotic supplements
This is an easy way to reintroduce several strains of important bacteria to your microbiome and increase butyrate production.
This is a product that I highly recommend. My own family members have used it with great success and a reversal of numerous, severe digestive issues, without any dietary changes. Restore transforms the microbiome and reinforces the gut lining, which strengthens the entire immune system. It does this, in part, by boosting not only the quantity of healthy bacteria, but by increasing the vast number of various bacteria species within the digestive system. You will not find these species in any pre or probiotic formula because your body develops these strains of bacteria on its own when exposed to Restore.
3. Eat a high fiber diet
With rare exception, plant foods are the only foods that contain fiber, and they work naturally to repopulate colonies of bacteria in the microbiome. Fiber is also necessary to create butyrates in the human body; butyrates are formed when fiber is fermented by microbes in the intestine.
4. Reduce or eliminate animal foods
Animal foods contain no fiber, and they disrupt the delicate balance in the microbiome by eliminating the number of healthy bacteria as well as reducing the number of species of bacteria. This is due to the protein in animal foods as well as substances given to animals killed for human consumption. As a part of standard farming practice, antibiotics, growth hormones, GMOs, and other toxins are routinely used in animal feed or are injected directly into the animals to promote growth, reduce illness, and reduce costs associated with raising the animals until slaughter.
5. Eliminate genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
GMOs cause a tremendous amount of damage to the gut lining and disrupt bacteria levels.
Buy only organic or non-GMO foods whenever possible and read the labels of all packaged and processed foods for genetically altered ingredients. A complete list can be found on the Institute for Responsible Technology website, but the two biggest culprits that you’ll find in nearly all processed foods are corn and soy ingredients.