Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes joint inflammation, pain, and stiffness. Research suggests a link between gut health and Rheumatoid Arthritis onset and progression. This has prompted interest in using probiotics to improve Rheumatoid Arthritis symptoms potentially. This article examines the relationship between the gut microbiome and Rheumatoid Arthritis, the possible benefits of probiotics, and key considerations when using probiotics to manage Rheumatoid Arthritis.
The Gut-Rheumatoid Arthritis Connection
In the last century, the bacteria in our gut suffered many changes that are the leading cause of many chronic diseases that we witness today, from diabetes to cancers and autoimmune diseases. The changes in our diet and the excessive use of antibiotics affected the gut microbiome.
Recent studies indicate rheumatoid arthritis development involves a complex interplay between genetic predisposition, environmental influences, and imbalances in gut bacteria. Lower levels of beneficial gut microbes like Faecalibacterium allow inflammatory bacteria like Collinsella to proliferate. These inflammatory bacteria release compounds that spur inflammation, especially in those genetically prone to Rheumatoid Arthritis. This inflammatory response can damage the intestinal lining, exposing it to the immune system. The immune system then reacts, often targeting the joints.
What are Probiotics ?
Probiotics are live microorganisms that naturally live in the gut. The term means “for life.” Probiotics help balance good and bad bacteria in the gut microbiome. They also interact with the immune system, potentially damping inflammatory responses.
The 2012 National Health Interview Survey showed about 4 million U.S. adults use probiotics, highlighting their huge popularity.
How Probiotics May Help Rheumatoid Arthritis ?
Rheumatoid Arthritis likely stems from a perfect storm of genetic susceptibility, environmental exposures, and gut dysbiosis. Declining beneficial bacteria allows inflammatory microbes to flourish unchecked. These release inflammatory compounds. In those predisposed to Rheumatoid Arthritis, this gut inflammation sparks an immune reaction that frequently manifests in the joints.
Research suggested that people receiving probiotic supplementation with Lactobacillus casei for eight weeks reduced joint swelling, inflammation, and pain. This indicates probiotics may mitigate Rheumatoid Arthritis progression by promoting a healthier gut environment.
How to Choose a Probiotic ?
When selecting a probiotic supplement, purity and quality are paramount. The FDA does not evaluate probiotic supplements so quality can vary between brands and batches. Diet, gut pH, and other factors impact probiotic delivery and effectiveness. Rigorous manufacturing standards help ensure each dose delivers adequate amounts of live bacterial strains for therapeutic effects. The dose is also important as you need 20 -40 billion colonies /day.
Why to Consider Probiotic Foods?
Many people prefer consuming probiotics from fermented foods rather than supplements. Food sources like
- Kombucha (Fermented tea) contains live, active cultures.
If you eat these foods, they contain strains like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium that offer similar benefits to probiotic supplements.
My advice is to gradually increase probiotic foods in your diet to allow your gut time to acclimate.
Our Treatment Approach
While promising, more studies on probiotics for Rheumatoid Arthritis relief are needed to confirm the beneficial effects. Probiotics appear relatively safe for most people with few side effects. Probiotics may be used in combination with treatment to control better Rheumatoid Arthritis. They are not a replacement for the treatment.
If you want a comprehensive approach to your disease, Rheumatologist OnCall is here to help you. At Rheumatologist OnCall, we emphasize a specialized and integrative approach specifically designed for Rheumatoid Arthritis patients. We offer our patients treatment and strive to educate them about nutrition through online courses, online physical therapy sessions, and mindfulness practices through a personalized approach to each patient’s needs.
We understand the importance of comprehensive care. Our goal is not only to diagnose and treat but to empower our patients with knowledge and tools to manage Rheumatoid Arthritis to the next level, achieve the best outcome, and live a full life.