A new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found a link between antibiotic use in children and the subsequent development of juvenile arthritis.

Researchers studied the medical records of children in the United Kingdom and found a strong correlation; the more antibiotics the children took, the higher their risk of developing juvenile arthritis. The most common form of arthritis in children is rheumatoid arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease that can cause intense joint pain, swelling and impaired mobility. In the condition, the immune system has gone awry and it starts to attack the joints of the body. Any joint can be affected.

In some circumstances, antibiotics are life-saving drugs. However, in recent times they are prescribed far too often. An unfortunate consequence of antibiotic use is they wipe out large numbers of beneficial microbes in the intestines. This can have a range of undesirable consequences, particularly for the immune system, since most cells of the immune system live in the gastrointestinal tract. This recent study just highlights the critical importance of a healthy gut microbiome in the prevention of autoimmune disease.

What can you do to restore good gut health?

Try to minimize substances that can cause intestinal inflammation and leaky gut. They include the following:

  • Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory drugs eg. aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, meloxicam
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance between good and bad microbes in the gut)
  • Candida infection
  • Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
  • Inefficient digestion resulting from deficiencies of stomach acid, bile or digestive enzymes
  • Gastrointestinal infections ie. parasites, food poisoning or gastroenteritis
  • Intense or chronic stress
  • A high sugar or refined carbohydrate diet
  • Gluten
  • Food allergy or intolerance
  • Lectins, saponins and alkaloids found in some foods such as grains, legumes and nightshade vegetables
  • Nutritional deficiencies, particularly zinc and vitamin A

Correct dysbiosis and/or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth

Dysbiosis means having too much bad bacteria, Candida or other microbes in the bowel and not enough good microbes. These harmful bugs inflame the gut lining and inhibit nutrient absorption. It is important to correct this imbalance with an herbal anti-parasitic formula and with diet changes: eliminating gluten, dairy products, sugar and any food you have a sensitivity to. Another common problem is Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO). This means there are too many microbes growing in the small intestine, where they shouldn’t be. They aren’t necessarily bad bugs, they’re just living in the wrong place. SIBO commonly causes nutrient deficiencies and it is strongly linked with restless legs syndrome. Sometimes a low FODMAP diet is necessary in order to overcome SIBO.

Improve digestive function

Deficiencies of stomach acid, bile and digestive enzymes are almost always present in people with poor gut health. It is critically important that you digest your food as thoroughly as possible. This will enable you to absorb the maximum amount of nutrients from your food, but there’s also another reason. If you don’t digest your food properly, it will literally rot or ferment inside your gut. The residues of undigested carbohydrate in particular, will act as food for harmful gut microbes, or encourage their growth in the small intestine, creating SIBO and a leaky gut. These wastes that aren't being digested properly will also leave you feeling dreadful. Common symptoms include bloating, gas, foggy head, low mood, anxiety or low motivation. Supplementing with hydrochloric acid, digestive enzymes and ox bile can be immensely helpful.

Heal and seal the gut

There are specific foods and nutrients that help to reduce inflammation in the digestive tract and restore the health of the intestinal lining. We need to make it a stronger barrier, so that you don’t keep absorbing toxins and wastes into your bloodstream. The most important substances to heal a leaky gut are glutamine, bone broth, berberine, zinc and vitamin A. For more information about leaky gut see the book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.

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The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.