Published on February 1st, 2018 | by Dr. Doug Pucci0
Gut Bacteria and Rheumatoid Arthritis
by Doug Pucci
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a painful swelling of the joints that can also result in bone loss. RA is also one of the myriad autoimmune diseases that rheumatologists and the overall medical community are now realizing has an important connection to poor gut health. It is believed that a proliferation of a particular bacteria, Prevotella copri, in people with RA can either trigger inflammation in the joints or displace bacteria that act as anti-inflammatory agents.
In a study reported and partially funded by the National Institutes of Health, the gut bacteria of 114 individuals, both healthy people and participants with early-onset RA or psoriatic arthritis, was tested. Fully three-quarters of the participants with early-onset RA and 38 percent of those with psoriatic arthritis were found to have Prevotella copri in their microbiome and that increased levels of P. copri “correlated with reductions in several groups of beneficial microbes.” Additionally, two separate studies published by immunologist Veena Taneja, Ph.D. at the Mayo Clinic, indicated that gut bacteria may even be able to prevent RA or predict a susceptibility to the disorder, both of which offer a chance at staving off the condition before it even starts.
An imbalance or lack of diversity in the body’s microbiome, the good and bad bacteria living in our intestinal tract, directly affects immune system health and quite often is at the root of a wide range of chronic ailments, including RA. A look through past research will find a connection between gut health and hormone function, thyroid disease, skin disorders and many other autoimmune diseases, too.
Leaky gut syndrome may also be a culprit .When bacteria, food and allergens pass through perforations in the intestinal lining of a person with leaky gut, they can cause an autoimmune response that then creates joint inflammation.
More than 1.5 million Americans suffer from RA, and the possibility that the condition is largely a result of a bacterial overgrowth is actually news, and is especially helpful for anyone that takes early steps to restore gut health. A gut microbiome that lacks diversity, while not ideal for a host of reasons, does offer hope that balance can be restored. By introducing new, good bacteria, it is theorized that patients can decrease disease progression and lessen RA symptoms. This is the goal. It requires that one be tested by a functional medicine doctor that can rule out leaky gut and assess for other deficiencies. Probiotics are not a one-size-fits all solution, and more needs to be considered; allergies, food sensitivities and patient health history are among the important factors in finding the correct course of action for getting one’s microbiome back into balance.
In the meantime, there are some dietary changes to help get started on a positive course. Replace foods that are highly processed, contain high amounts of sodium and sugar like fast foods with healthier options: fermented foods like fermented vegetables, high-fiber foods including fresh fruits and veggies, and anti-inflammatory foods higher in omega-3s such as walnuts, salmon, grass-fed beef and others are all good choices. Organic foods are always the best option whenever possible, and always read labels carefully for added sugars, chemicals and ingredients that may turn a potentially good selection into an undesirable one.
A healthy gut has its own rewards – as the immune system gets stronger, other health issues lessen or clear up, as well. It’s never too early or too late to build a better gut microbiome.
For appointments, call 201-261-5430. Hear Dr. Pucci’s interview podcast at PlanetNJ.com or visit GetWell-Now.com and request an information packet.