Link Between Gut Bugs And Multiple Sclerosis
A team of researchers from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) has found that bacteria living in the gut can influence the activity of brain cells that are involved in controlling inflammation and neurodegeneration. This has enormous significance for those with multiple sclerosis.
Francisco Quintana is a researcher at BWH and one of the authors of the study. He has said: “For the first time, we’ve been able to identify that food has some sort of remote control over central nervous system inflammation. What we eat influences the ability of bacteria in our gut to produce small molecules, some of which are capable of traveling all the way to the brain. This opens up an area that’s largely been unknown until now: how the gut controls brain inflammation.”
Certainly the type of food you eat determines what types of bugs you have living in your gut. Sugar and artificial additives promote unhealthy bacteria and fungi, whereas the fiber in natural foods encourages the growth of good gut bugs. In this way, you have enormous influence over the future health of your brain. Excessive inflammation in the brain is also associated with an increased risk of dementia, motor neuron disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Results of this recent research have been published in the journal Nature Medicine. The investigators found evidence that changes in diet and gut flora can influence astrocytes in the brain of MS patients, and, consequently, the rate of neurodegeneration.
Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune condition where the body’s immune system starts attacking myelin, the protective coating that surrounds nerves. The condition has been linked to several risk factors, including vitamin D deficiency, infection with Epstein-Barr virus, and alterations in gut function. Rates of multiple sclerosis are increasing in most parts of the world, and occurring in younger individuals.
For more information on gut healing and the treatment of autoimmune disease, see my book Healing Autoimmune Disease: A plan to help your immune system and reduce inflammation.