Rheumatoid Arthritis, A Gut Connection

Our guts contain countless beneficial and problematic microorganisms. When they are in balance, they play an important role in maintaining overall health and wellbeing. Recently, researchers have delved into the relationship between gut microbiome dysbiosis (imbalance) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), an autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation and joint pain.

The human microbiome comprises numerous microbes that can be altered by various factors like diet, antibiotic use, pathology, or fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT). The presence of "bad" microbes and reduction in beneficial microbes due to dysbiosis can have negative impacts on the body’s protective immune responses, including triggering autoimmune disorders like RA.

The gut microbiome plays a critical role in immunological activation and RA development

Research has reported a bi-directional association between the intestinal microbiota and the immune system, and alterations in the microbiome have been linked to RA pathogenesis. Studies on mice have shown that microbial inoculations from rheumatoid arthritis patients can increase pro-inflammatory cytokines in the intestine and rapidly induce arthritis. Cytokines are proteins that regulate inflammation, and excess cytokines can lead to conditions like inflammation and autoimmune diseases.

The gut microbiome plays a critical role in immunological activation and RA development, and gut dysbiosis precedes arthritis and local inflammation, leading to systemic inflammation in genetically predisposed individuals. Researchers have identified Lactobacillus- and Prevotella copri-mediated inflammation, Prevotella copri-mediated molecular mimicry, and Collinsella-mediated loss of intestinal barrier integrity as some of the ways that microbiota imbalance contributes to RA pathogenesis.

It’s important to note that further research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms of microbe-associated immunological responses. However, current findings suggest that microbiota-targeted interventions, including dietary changes and probiotic supplementations, could hold potential in treating RA.

As a functional health practitioner, we emphasize the importance of lifestyle modifications to support the gut microbiome. This includes incorporating a variety of fiber-rich foods and phytonutrients that promote a healthy gut microbiome, as well as minimizing processed foods, sugar, and inflammatory oils. Additionally, incorporating probiotics and prebiotics, such as fermented foods and supplements, can further support a healthy gut microbiome.

Overall, this research sheds light on the complex relationship between the gut microbiome and RA, and highlights the potential for microbiota-targeted interventions in treating autoimmune disorders. At Entavida, we are committed to staying up-to-date, and keeping you up-to-date too, on the latest research and incorporating evidence-based interventions to support our patients’ overall health and wellbeing.

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