It seems we really are what we eat.
In a recent article "Emerging Concepts on the Gut Microbiome and Multiple Sclerosis," co-authors Justin Glenn and Ellen Mowry, both from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, reviewed the relationship between gut bacteria and autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
Among other things, they studied how this information could be used to benefit those with chronic illnesses.
As part of the digestive system the human gut flora contains more bacteria than any other part of the body. The gut flora (gut microbiota, or gastrointestinal microbiota) is the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tracts of humans, other animals, and even insects.
Within the flora is both good and bad bacteria.
When the gut is unbalanced
Gut bacteria can get out of balance due to certain factors such as chronic stress, overconsumption of alcoholic beverages, environmental contaminants, poor food choices, too much candida, or yeast, and use of certain medications, according to Liz Lipski Ph.D., C.N.S, C.H.N., author of “Digestive Wellness.”
When bacteria get out of balance, a condition called Leaky Gut Syndrome can occur. Leaky gut is the destruction of the integrity of the gut wall to the point of allowing particles of undigested food and toxins to enter the blood stream.
It is associated with many chronic diseases, including diabetes, lupus, and MS.
Symptoms are widespread and include bloating, gas, cramps, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), as well as fatigue, food sensitivities, joint pain, moodiness, irritability, sleeplessness, and skin problems like eczema and psoriasis.
Although studied across the globe, leaky gut is still a medical mystery.
Comparing, correcting gut flora
More studies are coming out in favor of the importance of gut integrity on health. And public awareness is helping find creative funding for two organizations that sequence gut flora via Indiegogo.
Both uBiome and American Gut are now offering to sequence any person or dog’s gut flora for under $100. The results are then compared to everyone else who has been tested along with certain groups such as vegetarians, meat eaters, those that follow a gluten-free diet, heavy drinkers, and even author Michael Pollen.
Both organizations offer analyses of gut microbiome but with mixed results, according to Erika Engelhaupt of Science News.
Engelhaupt compared and analyzed the different sequencing options with two of her own samples and was intrigued by the disparate results between the tests.
Leaky gut is something that people can help fix with everyday adjustments to diet and lifestyle, according to Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M, D.C., C.N.S..
“You are not what you eat, but what you absorb,” Axe said.
He added that you could find wellness by changing your diet, adding probiotics and prebiotics, and making lifestyle changes to reduce stress.
Doctors of natural medicine and Western medicine agree.
Lifestyle changes can make significant improvements in gut flora. They also agree that the elimination or adjustment to the Western diet, which is high in fat and carbohydrates, is essential to achieving better health.
The connection between MS and gut flora is evident as studies continue to prove the effects of gut bacteria and the development and progression of MS.