The field of microbiome research is exploding, from autism to autoimmune disease and even branching out into the new field of psychobiotics (probiotics for mood/mental health). Ultimately, we are finding we are much more than just what we eat; many of our health parameters and even our quality of mental health are tightly linked to the bacterial community that lives in our gut. The microbiome refers to the balance of good and bad bacteria populations that live in our large intestine. Many factors can change the microbiome including even how we were born! Other things that can influence the microbiome’s health is eating fermented foods, exercise, food and alcohol habits, smoking, stress, and use of certain medications and antibiotics. An altered microbiome has long been linked to abdominal pain, altered bowel movements, and IBS.
The truly interesting and new info is that we are finally linking the microbiome to autoimmune diseases and diseases that are not classically thought of as GI diseases. Autoimmune diseases are where the body no longer can differentiate between self and foreign invader and will attack particular tissues that have been misidentified as “not ourself”. Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, antiphospholipid syndrome have all been identified as possibly being started by disruptions in our microbiome. What might be more exciting is a Canadian research group was recently given a sizeable grant to study the potential treatment of ALS (Aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) with a specific strain of probiotics! This could be ground-breaking! Researchers are also calling for more research in the treatment of autism spectrum disorders with probiotics as well! I linked a few of the studies and articles below.
Naturopathic medicine always has believed that much of health is created in the gut and the basis of treatment in my practice for autoimmune diseases specifically has always been to begin with digestion. It’s nice to see science following suit and what we intrinsically knew many years ago is being shown to be correct.
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