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The link between your gut & inflammatory arthritis

September 2017 Print
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Healthy gut bacteria may play an important role in managing inflammatory arthritis, according to a 2017 international meta-analysis.

Millions of healthy bacteria live in our digestive tracts, where they help break down food and play a vital role in your overall health. Now this systematic review[i] of all major research has found healthy bacteria may also affect the level of inflammation in your body. Scientists from the University of Macau found health gut flora may have a beneficial effect on inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

The analysis found altering the gut microbiota with probiotics supplements showed limited improvement in rheumatoid arthritis therapy.

Results showed inflammation biomarkers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and interleukine (IL)−1β, were significantly reduced.

A 2016 [ii] study by the University of Glasgow found people with inflammatory arthritis have changes and differences in the types of bacteria in their gut. The study said that altering the bacteria with probiotics may become therapeutically viable for some types of inflammatory arthritis.

A diet rich in prebiotic and probiotic foods can help to restore digestive balance. Prebiotics are the food for your gut bacteria. Some good prebiotic foods include chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, dandelion greens, and jicama or Mexican yam.

Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria themselves.  They can be found in whole, natural fermented foods and high quality supplements. Aim for a diet low in simple sugars, rich in healthy fats with lots of healthy prebiotic fibre.

Regular exercise, getting a good night’s sleep, lowering exposure to chemicals and reducing stress can also help to restore digestive balance.

Ask your healthcare practitioner about your particular needs to optimise your health.

References available on request

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