What is rheumatoid arthritis?
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic medical condition that results
in painful swelling in the joints. The disease usually starts in the hands and
feet and works its way toward fundamental joints over time. Without effective
therapy, rheumatoid arthritis can result in severe deformity and disability.
Currently, the best remedies for rheumatoid arthritis are medications that
suppress the immune system.
The cause of rheumatoid arthritis has eluded researchers
for decades. The immune system is involved, obviously, but what causes the
immune system in the first place? Researchers have started to find answers in
an unlikely place: the human gut. Is it possible that gut bacteria can hold a cure? Increasing evidence suggests the bacteria which
reside in the human gut may be the cause of rheumatoid arthritis.
What causes & triggers RA?
Nobody knows for certain what causes rheumatoid arthritis.
Rheumatoid arthritis starts in people with the right (or wrong) combination of
genetic factors and environmental exposures. Quite simply, individuals that are genetically
predisposed to developing the illness will develop rheumatoid arthritis. When
the disease begins, however, it’s self-perpetuating, so it is going to keep
getting worse by itself.
Since people can’t alter their genes, researchers have
focused mostly on identifying the environmental insults. To put it differently,
what causes rheumatoid arthritis? Things like cigarette smoke, silica debris
and dust particles may be triggers in certain. Yet tens of thousands of people who never
smoke or possess these exposures nevertheless develop rheumatoid arthritis.
Bacterial and viral infections have long been suspected causes
for rheumatoid arthritis. The immune system attacks the invader, but the immune
system then becomes confused between what is and isn’t foreign. From this
moment on, the immune system attacks the joints. Despite years of
searching, however, we haven’t identified a particular viral or bacterial
infection which causes rheumatoid arthritis.
An exciting new possibility has sparked intense scientific curiosity:
the gut microbiome.
Gut Bacteria and the Immune System
The walls of the gut create the home to a huge number of
immune system cells. These gut immune cells are important gatekeepers. They
have to detect and destroy foreign invaders that ride on the food that we eat.
However, the intestine’s immune system must achieve a delicate balance between
fighting invaders and allowing nutrients to enter the body. If the immune system is too lax, we get
infected. When it’s too aggressive, we get allergic reactions and potentially
We now know that the microorganisms living in the gut have a
profound effect on immune system functioning. The immune system in the gut is
based heavily on the bacteria present to help do its job. There’s a continuous
exchange of information between gut bacteria and the immune system. Microorganisms
from the intestine digest and detoxify substances and stimulate the immune
Is Gut Bacteria responsible for Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Not all gut bacteria are healthful. Actually, researchers
may have identified the gut bacteria that cause rheumatoid arthritis.
Dr. Dan Littman of New York University School of Medicine
And his co-investigators discovered that a specific bacterium, Prevotella
copri, was present in the gastrointestinal tracts of individuals when they
first developed rheumatoid arthritis. Prevotella copri was found in 75 percent
of people with fresh, untreated rheumatoid arthritis, but only 21 percent of
those with no disease.
If harmful germs and antigens enter your body, they attack
other parts of your body, such as your joints. One method to fight bad bacteria
is to increase the concentration of healthy bacteria, or probiotics, in your
gut. This makes probiotics a exceptional alternative treatment for rheumatoid
How can probiotics help in managing rheumatoid arthritis?
According to a recent research study, a daily dose of probiotics led to less action and
less inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis. Evidence suggests that the impact of
probiotics could be observed even at places far away from where they’re
administered. Listed below are some advantages of probiotics:
– Reduce chronic low levels of inflammation in the absence of a significant threat
– Strengthen junctions with cells located in organs which contain and transport water and solutes
– Strengthen the lining of the intestine making it more resistant to toxins, allergens and pathogens
– Modulate resistance by training the immune system to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys
Can Probiotics help RA?
People who develop rheumatoid arthritis have a substantially
lower amount of beneficial bacteria in their gastrointestinal systems. People
with rheumatoid arthritis have significantly less Bifidobacteria,
Bacteroides-Porphyromonas-Prevotella species, Bacteroides fragilis species and
the Eubacterium rectale-Clostridium coccoides species.
It is too early to say whether gut bacteria causes
rheumatoid Arthritis, just as it is too early to say whether gut bacteria
prevents rheumatoid arthritis. Nevertheless, these scientific study results are
hard to ignore. We know that getting healthy bacteria in the gut is essential
for overall health. It appears reasonable, then, to take action to foster the
growth and development of healthy bacteria.
It’s reasonable to promote healthy gut bacteria by taking
probiotics. In the end, probiotics are just capsules which contain healthy
bacteria. But, probiotics are living bacteria. As such, the majority of the
probiotics which are consumed die in the acidity of the stomach. The amount of
germs which do survive is just a tiny fraction of the trillions of bacteria
that line our intestines.
Unfortunately, taking one type of probiotic isn’t likely to be adequate in preventing or treating rheumatoid arthritis. Consider that
individuals with early rheumatoid arthritis are rather deficient in a whole
slew of bacterial species. Some of these microorganisms aren’t even
commercially available as probiotics. Thus, it may make more sense to rely on
prebiotics as opposed to probiotics. You should consult with a functional medicine doctor to evaluate what is right for you.
Probiotics or Prebiotics
Prebiotics like oligofructose and inulin are food for
healthy gut bacteria. When you consume prebiotics, they travel throughout the
gastrointestinal tract and make their way into the large intestine. The body
doesn’t digest these compounds, but wholesome bacteria do. Prebiotics encourage
the growth and expansion of healthy gut
bacteria. These healthful microorganisms also tend to push unhealthy germs
such as Prevotella copri and stop them from taking root in the gut.
If you need probiotics, some natural
sources of probiotics include yogurt, dark chocolate and kefir (a fermented
dairy product). Furthermore, you can also consume probiotics in the shape of
dietary supplements after checking with your functional medicine expert.
Despite intense research, scientists still do not know
exactly what causes rheumatoid arthritis. However, evidence now strongly
suggests that the number and kinds of bacteria within the gastrointestinal
tract affects the development of rheumatoid arthritis. Prevotella copri might
be a bacterial cause of rheumatoid arthritis. Probiotics from food may be beneficial in balancing the gut
microbiome. However, it’s hard to know what sort of probiotic supplements to
use. Another option is to be supplement your diet with
prebiotics. Prebiotics encourage the growth and development of several species
of helpful gut bacteria.