The Relationship Between Gut Bacteria and Multiple Sclerosis

I was recently diagnosed with SIBO. What’s that, you may ask? SIBO is an acronym for small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. If you have never heard of it don’t worry. Neither did several doctors I’ve seen since my diagnosis. That’s a tricky game when doctors are in the dark about a patient’s illness.

Basically, SIBO is when bacteria normally found in the large intestine proliferate and spill over into the small intestine, a place where they don’t belong. It may be caused by a dysfunction of intestinal nerves or muscles or some sort of abnormality of the intestine.

Symptoms can include abdominal bloating, diarrhea, constipation, gas, joint pain, abdominal pain, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and weight loss.

 

“Bacteria living in the gut may remotely influence the activity of cells in the brain involved in controlling inflammation and neurodegeneration. Using preclinical models for multiple sclerosis and samples from MS patients, the team found evidence that changes in diet and gut flora may influence astrocytes (a star-shaped glial cell in the brain and spinal cord) in the brain, and, consequently, neurodegeneration, pointing to potential therapeutic targets. The team’s results were published in Nature Medicine.”

Francisco Quintana

“‘For the first time, we’ve been able to identify that food has some sort of remote control over central nervous system inflammation,’” said corresponding author Francisco Quintana, HMS associate professor of neurology and the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s.

“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,” he said.

Now I know I’m on the right path to use food as medicine. 

 

BY Cathy Chester

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