Gut Bacteria can Prevent most Diseases including Auto-Immune Diseases

James LiddellArticles, Chronic IllnessLeave a Comment


GUT bacteria (balanced microbiota) can prevent most diseases including Autoimmune Diseases

The origins of autoimmune disease are in the gut. The human gastrointestinal tract harbours a complex micro-bacteria consisting of between 500 and 1000 distinct microbial species. Our intestinal bacteria have a larger role in health than we have previously suspected.

A microbiome is “the ecological community of commensal, symbiotic, and pathogenic microorganisms that literally share our body space. The human body contains over 10 times more microbial cells than human cells, although the entire microbiome only weighs about 200 grams and some weight estimates ranging as high as 1,400 grams.

The human gut bacteria have become the subject of extensive research in recent years and our knowledge of the resident species and their potential functional capacity is rapidly growing. Our gut harbours a complex community of over 100 trillion microbial cells which influence human physiology, metabolism, nutrition and immune function while disruption to the gut bacteria has been linked with gastrointestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and obesity (Savage, 1997).

The original view of the immune system is that it is a complex assembly of organs, tissues, cells and molecules that work together to eliminate pathogens. Modifications to this original view, is that the immune system has evolved to control microbes, have come from the discovery that microbes co-evolve with and exert control upon the immune system. It is well known that germ-free animals possess an underdeveloped immune system. Excessive amounts of particular cells are thought to play a key role in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, juvenile diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, Cohn’s disease, and autoimmune uveitis.

The most important aspect is the effect on auto-immune diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and perhaps some cancers. Common obesity might also be aggravated by an imbalance of microbes in the gut.  The microbes in our body can modify the production of neurotransmitters known to be found in the brain, we may also find some relief for schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder and other neuro-chemical imbalances.

The composition in gut bacteria differs vastly from the slim person to the obese person.   Total population sequences were analysed to determine the levels of enzymes involved in carbohydrate, lipid, and amino acid metabolism. Obesity is associated with phylum-level differences in the micro-bacteria, a significantly reduced bacterial diversity of enzymes which result in an increased efficiency of calorie harvest in the diets of the obese twins (Giongo et al, 2011).

Type I diabetes is an autoimmune disease that is correlated with a multiplicity of predisposing factors, including an unbalanced intestinal micro-bacteria, a leaky gut, and intrinsic differences in immune responsiveness. Community DNA sequencing of intestinal flora comparing healthy and autoimmune children showed that autoimmune children had relatively unstable gut bacteria with significantly decreased levels of species diversity, and the populations showed large scale replacement of Firmicutes species with Bacteroidetes species (Ravel et al, 2010).

Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is also influenced by environmental factors. The nature of these environmental factors remains unclear but they are important to identify since they may be amenable to therapy. Nowadays, the gut micro-bacteria, the trillions of microorganisms inhabiting the gut, as well as diet, have been implicated in T1DM pathogenesis.  As dietary changes can reshape this complex gut community, its co-evolution could have been altered by changes to our diet, agriculture, personal hygiene, and antibiotic usage, which coincide with the increased incidence of T1DM (Beyan et al, 2012).

Microbes are also implicated in origin of depression.  Pathogenic  Borrelia burgdorferii causes Lyme disease which causes depression in up to 2/3 of all cases (Fallon & Nields, 1994). Non-pathogenic bacteria are also implicated in depression in which bacterial populations are suppressed. One model of depression is periodic separation of infant mice from their mothers. These mice show reductions in Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacterium species, functional gut abnormalities, increased corticosterone (stress hormone) levels, weight loss, and causes them to not swim as much in a forced swim test as control mice indicating behavioural despair. When treating the mice with Lactobacillus it lowered corticosterone levels and gut abnormalities (Gareau et al, 2007).

Germ free mice have an exaggerated stress response and a reduced expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in the cortex and hippocampus (Sudo et al, 2004). Another experiment showed that treating the maternally separated mice with a probiotic culture of Bifodobacterium infantis minimizes weight loss, causes mice to swim longer and causes an increase in serotonin (Desbonnet et al, 2010). Higher levels of serotonin lift depression in humans. Patients with depression are less able to properly digest fructose (Ledochowski et al, 2000), which is also associated with a reduction in tryptophan production and increase risk for depression(Ledochowski et al, 2001).

Autistic populations have a unique composition of gut bacteria that consists of more clostridial species (Finegold et al, 2002). Half of all autistic children with unbalanced gut bacteria were found to have the bacteria Sutterella which was completely absent in non-autistic children with gastrointestinal dysfunction (Williams et al, 2012).

We also now look at a possible link between gut health and heart health – Maccaferri et al (2011) highlight the potential of the newest high-throughput, culture-independent approaches for the characterization of the human gut microbiome in health and disease.

The gut bacteria differ to a large degree from person to person and have an important influence on health and disease due to its interaction with the human immune system. Its overall composition and microbial ecology have been implicated in many autoimmune diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Comparative studies based on the germ-free gut have provided clear evidence that the gut micro-bacteria are instrumental in promoting the development of both the gut and systemic immune systems. Early micro-bacteria exposure of the gut is thought to dramatically reduce the incidence of inflammatory, autoimmune and atopic diseases further fueling the scientific viewpoint, that microbial colonization plays an important role in regulating and fine-tuning the immune system throughout life.

Recent molecular diversity studies have provided additional evidence that the human gut micro-bacteria is compositionally altered in individuals suffering from inflammatory bowel disorders, suggesting that specific bacterial species are important to maintaining immunological balance and health.

At a recent conference on probiotics in the USA one of the delegates stated that a bad diet (high carbohydrates and sugar) and pharmaceutical drugs can contribute to digestive system with bad flora which can be the start of inflammation in the gut which can spread to organs.  That can be the start of most chronic diseases.

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Dr James Liddell is an Integrated Healthcare Specialist (B.Pharm; M.Pharm; PhD; SAPC and PSSA registered) specialising in integrating different disciplines of healthcare to ensure holistic healthcare solutions. With 25 years experience as a Pharmacist, Dr of Nutrition and Complementary & Alternative Medicine Healthcare Practitioner, he believes lifestyle is ultimately the key to optimal health; a good nutritional foundation combined with sound emotional health are the fundamentals to what he calls ‘the optimal health zone’.

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