At the center of our bodies you’ll find the gut and your microbiome; a community of healthy bacteria that lives in our digestive tract. Research expands whether there is a link between gut health and autoimmunity.
Science is identifying these microorganisms as being more important to our overall health than was previously thought, with links to digestive disease prevention and autoimmunity, so what is this microscopic life and what does it do?
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There is more of this microscopic life, formed by microbial genes, in your body than there are human cells. Unlike your personalized human genes, these microbial genes can be influenced and altered by external factors to improve your health. Changes can be impacted by medication and a number of lifestyle factors.
Labeled the ‘giant bioreactor,’ the microbiome plays host to bacteria, archaea, fungi and viruses which make up the microbiota that all play a role in your digestion. They are even thought to help regulate your immune system, protect you against diseases and produce vital vitamins. To give you a brief overview of this complex system: The less diversity you have in your microbiome, the less healthy your gut is.
Your Gut Health and Autoimmune Diseases
The gut may be the home of the microbiome, but its influence can be felt much further; these tiny microbiomes extend their reach throughout the body. Which is why it is currently the focus of so much scientific research, as the microbiome has been identified as one of the new ways to treat disease.
There are trillions of microbiomes in your gut, some good and some bad, each performing a different function. It's from the diversity of your gut’s microbiome that scientists are able to identify questions about your immunity. The state of your microbiome enables scientists to say how much at risk you are from certain diseases and even go as far as to be able to predict how susceptable you will be to diseases, such as diabetes.
How is Gut Health Related to Immune Disorders?
Autoimmune diseases are conditions that occur as a result of our immune system attacking itself. There are currently over 80 different identified autoimmune diseases that affect the population. These disorders are a major causes of death in Americans, especially in women under the age of 65, as women are more likely to develop them.
Have you ever thought about what can you do to reduce your risk of autoimmune disorders, and how your gut health can help?
- Type 1 Diabetes
Research has identified that gut microbiota plays a key role in both the onset and, potential prevention of type-1 diabetes. It suggests that a change in the permeability of the gut, helps prevent the clinical onset of diabetes. So the development and creation of new microbiota-based therapies could be influential in the treatment of type 1 diabetes.
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
The guts bacteria could be a key factor in predicting your susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis; there is an abundance of rare bacterial lineages that can cause a microbial imbalance, and these are found in rheumatoid arthritis patients.
The gut is also important to arthritis suffers for another reason. In the gut, food is broken down into very small particles which then pass through the digestive system. In some cases however, larger undigested food particles, like gluten proteins for example are able to pass through the intestinal lining and reach the rest of your body, a problem known as leaky gut. Once inside, they are treated as foreign invaders and causes immune reactions that trigger inflammation and pain; in patients with arthritis, the presence of these particles is common.
- Multiple Sclerosis
Gut microbiome plays an important role in immune function and studies have shown that it can significantly affect the immunity of patients with MS. As of yet, there have been no further, significant developments on this, only the understanding that there is a link between the two. But the science suggests that focusing on eliminating harmful strains of bacteria or increasing the beneficial strains of gut bacteria could slow the progression of MS.
So many types of microbiome are still undiscovered. With their characteristics unknown, this provides a huge scope of opportunity in the future for preventative care and treatment of these. diseases.
What can CBD do for Gut Health and Autoimmune Diseases?
Recent studies are suggesting there is a link between endocannabinoids and the microbiome. There have been reports that could suggest that CBD can be used to target the microbiome in the gut and help those suffering from autoimmune disorders, by relieving symptoms like ‘leaky gut’ as well as affecting the microbial make up.
As leaky gut syndrome, can be found in many patients with autoimmune diseases, CBD is utilised for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties and ability to regulate the permeability of the intestines. Researchers believe that THC and CBD can increase claudin-1, a protein that regulates the permeability of tissues, and causes the walls between intestinal cells to tighten, thus reducing leaky gut.
Another study has found that a combination of CBD and THC could potentially alter the gut’s microbiome and in turn affect the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. The study focused on the gut’s microbiome composition before and after using a combination of THC and CBD. The result was that mucin degrading bacterias were significantly reduced.
A diverse gut is a great thing for your health, but one that is heavy in one type of bacteria is unbalanced. A combination of CBD/THC prevents mucin-degrading bacteria from accumulating, so it is able to help balance the good bacteria living in the gut.
Steps to Improve your Immunity and Microbiome
In order take steps to prevent autoimmune diseases, you can try and balance your gut health by diversifying your microbiome, you can achieve better gut health by making lifestyle changes and changing your diet, environment, and intake of supplements.
By making small changes you can influence your bile acids, pancreatic enzymes, and stomach acids to work correctly. Research on exactly what to do and what to take to create a healthy landscape in your gut is ongoing, but below we’ve identified some potential ideas you can do to help keep your gut happy!
- Double Your Fiber
Fiber is ‘fertilizer’ for your guts microbiome; it creates short-chain fatty acids that are good for your immune system and helps control your appetite. Try beans, lentils or bananas… the more diverse your sources of fiber, the better!
- CBD Edibles
By ingesting your CBD via an edible, you are able to combine it with guts desirable ingredients to target your digestive system specifically. Here it’ll have long-lasting effects, help reduce inflammation and stimulate the body’s endocannabinoid production for better immunity, as part of your endocannabinoid system is found in your gut.
- Diversity is Key
Researchers at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands identified foods that raised the diversity of your gut microbiome are fruits, vegetables, yogurt and more surprisingly wine, coffee, tea, and buttermilk. Whilst sugary soda drinks, snacks, and whole milk, negatively affect the diversity of the microbiome.
Probiotics have a very close relationship with your guts microbiome: they line your digestive tract, ensure your body absorbs nutrients and has the ability to fight off infections. This good bacteria is key for a healthy gut and performs a number of nutritional functions. Probiotics support the immune function, reduce inflammation, promote healthy digestion and maintain healthy-looking skin.
For more on probiotics as well as lesser know prebiotics and postbiotics, our article outlines everything you need to know.
- Fermented and Cultured Foods
Unsurprisingly food appears to have the most influence on your microbiome, as diet is a recurring factor in achieving a healthy gut. Fermented and cultured foods have a high number of digestive enzymes in them and can help target your stomach, liver and gallbladder. They are also a great source of probiotics.
Incorporating these diet and lifestyle changes into your health regime can help improve your gut bacteria composition. At present, research hasn’t been able to identify what it exactly takes to have a healthy microbiome, as there is no proven fix for a healthy landscape for these organisms. However, these suggested changes can help! Will you go with your gut!