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The Gut Microbiome and Inflammation

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Our body consists of a broad spectrum of bacteria that contributes to the overall health of the human host. Some bacteria are associated with the production of provocative molecules and can incite inflammation in various tissues.  

Gut Microbiome And Inflammation 

Gut microbes are the microorganism inhabiting the human gastrointestinal tract. These microbes help to defend the gut from pathogens and boost the gut to prevent inflammation. If the gut's microbiota is altered, certain microbes will grow, which may promote inflammation.  

This article discusses how to use natural compounds produced in the gut microbiome to treat microbes inflammation using diet, supplements, and healthy changes in lifestyle.  

Microbiome Role In Inflammatory Bowel Disease 

Inflammatory bowel disease is a common inflammatory condition of the colon and intestine.  

It represents two conditions (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis) that cause long-standing inflammation of the digestive tract resulting in damage to the gastrointestinal tract.  

The exact cause of IBD is still unknown. It can occur through an association between diet, environment, infectious agents, and genetic factors, resulting in the inflammation from an immunological response in the intestine.  

Changes in the composition of intestinal microbes can activate an aggressive mucosal immune response. 

During the process, the immune system attacks the cells of the gastrointestinal tract. IBD is usually treated by a group of medications that includes corticosteroids, immunosuppressive drugs, or aminosalicylates(5-ASA), which can induce remission but may produce significant side effects [1].  

The microbe can be stimulated in various ways to prevent inflammation of the gut.  


Relationship Between Healthy Gut Microbiome And Inflammation 

Researchers found reduced numbers of healthy flora such as F. prausnitzii and R. hominis in a patient with IBD. Meanwhile, E.coli, which exists in fewer numbers in the healthy gut, was found to increase in IBD patients. 

Gut Microbiome and Inflammation

When the food is broken down, bacterias produce signalling molecules that help to establish communication between the microbiome and intestine. These signalling molecules produced by  F. prausnitzii and R. hominis helps to reduce gut butyrate levels which helps to reduce inflammation and make gut lining strong [2].   


Methods To Alter Gut Microbes 

1. Anti-inflammatory Diet 

Food plays an essential role in determining the composition of the microbe present in the gut. Changing your diet can simply alter the microbiota present in the gut.  

Food rich in fats and sugar can alter the gut microbes and may lead to inflammation of the bowel [3]. In contrast, a diet rich in fibers can promote the growth of intestinal microbes and reduce the chance of getting an inflammatory bowel disease [4].  

An anti-inflammatory diet limits the amount of some carbohydrates such as refined sugar and gluten-based grains, which may stimulate the growth of inflammatory bacteria. 

A lot of research has evaluated the role of microbes to treat inflammatory diseases. Researchers have proposed a promising novel diet to reduce inflammation in the gut [5].  

The novel anti-inflammatory diet for IBD restricts the consumption of complex carbohydrates such as refined sugar, gluten-based grains, and certain starches from the diet. These carbohydrates could provide a substrate for proinflammatory bacteria. The diet also includes nutritious foods that are pre-and probiotics to help restore an anti-inflammatory environment. 

2. Probiotics 

Probiotics are good bacteria consumed in a diet that can provide many health benefits by improving or restoring the gut flora. They are fermented dairy products like yoghurt, kefir (a fermented milk drink ), sauerkraut (cabbage fermented by lactic acid ), and tempeh. It also comes in the form of a supplement. 

Probiotics are rich in bacteria which are normal inhabitants of specific anatomical locations. A healthy bacterial concentration helps protect the gut from pathogens and inflammation. A study has shown that probiotics have shown clinical benefits by inhibiting the growth of pathogens, modulating the intestine's immune system, and secreting antimicrobial particles [6].  

3. Prebiotics 

The vegetarian diet and Mediterranean diet contain plenty of high-fat dietary fiber content, a specific subset of carbohydrate known as prebiotics.  

Gut Microbiome and Inflammation

The prebiotics enhances the growth of probiotics such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium [6].  

Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients (mostly oligosaccharide) that help to stimulate the growth of gut bacteria. A study in rodents has shown that supplementation with prebiotics such as inulin or lactulose helps to re-establish gut microbes and decreases mucosal inflammation in inflammatory bowel disease induced by chemicals [9]. 

Read more here on taking either probiotics or prebiotics.  

4. Stool Transplant: An Effective Clostridium Difficile Treatment 

Stool transplant, also known as fecal microbiota transplant, involves a procedure in which stool of a healthy donor is placed in the digestive tract of a patient suffering from chronic inflammation of the intestine.  

New methods suggest fecal microbiota transplant (FMT) as a treatment option for a recurrent gut inflammation associated with bacteria clostridium difficile. 

A study published in The New England Journal of Medicine concluded that stool transplant was two times more effective in treating clostridium difficile. This procedure allows healthy bacteria to grow in the gut of an infected person to fight off clostridium difficile [7]. The success of FMT in treating C.difficile proves that microbes in the gut can be manipulated to treat inflammatory disease. 

If you are interested in fecal transplants, you can learn more from our comprehensive review on that topic.  

5. Physical Activity  

Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid produced by the gut on breaking down dietary fibers. Exercise can alter the gut microbes, increase the flora F.prausnitzii, and consequently increase the level of n-butyrate.   

Furthermore, physical activity tends to increase short-chain fatty acids produced as a metabolic end-product of microbes, reducing the risk of intestinal inflammation [10]. 

 Exercise also increases other flora types such as lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, which positively reduces inflammation in the gut [11].  

Gut Microbiome and Inflammation

On the other hand, intense exercise can affect intestinal health by increasing body temperature and drawing blood away from the intestine, promoting intestinal inflammation. In summary, physical activity has both advantages and disadvantages for gut microbes. Further studies may be needed to draw a conclusive effect of physical activity on gut microbes and IBD. 

6. Mental Health Care 

Psychological stress in humans could alter gut microbes. A study has found that gut microbiota was changed by psychological stress in rodents. Although there are limited studies linking stress and gut microbes in humans, scientists believe the effect of stress on human microbiota may also be similar to rodents. A study on undergraduates found reduced levels of lactobacillus during periods of stress during examinations. [12] 

 The reduction in the number of lactobacillus following stress can lead to the inflammation of the intestine. 


Gut Microbiome And Inflammation: Summing Up

In conclusion, microbes in the gut have a significant role in maintaining the balance of inflammatory response in our intestine and immune system.  

Even a slight imbalance may induce a wide range of inflammatory conditions in the intestine.  

Any alterations in the gut's microbes can be due to diet and factors such as probiotics, prebiotics, psychological stress, and physical activity.  

These factors can lead to the change in microbes composition and the respective metabolic product, which interacts with the gut's immune system and results in intestinal inflammation. Therefore, any methods to increase the content of healthy gut microbes can be extremely helpful to prevent and manage inflammatory bowel conditions.  

References: 

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3337124/ 
[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6789542/ 
[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7284805/
[4] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6722800/ 
[5] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24428901/ 
[6] https://gut.bmj.com/lookup/external-ref?access_num=A1996VC12200003&link_type=ISI 
[7] https://apic.org/monthly_alerts/fecal-transplants-a-new-clostridium-difficile-treatment-option/ 
[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7782892 
[9] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5148622/ 
[10] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735932/ 
[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6143810/ 
[12] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6143810/ 

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