How Probiotics Heal an Inflamed Gut

Gut inflammation in the form of Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and leaky gut syndrome have been linked to many  types of chronic disease such as arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, eczema, and autoimmune disease. In this article I am going to explain the important role probiotics play in controlling inflammation so that you may confidently incorporate them into your treatment regime.

Probiotics’ Direct Effect on Inflammation

Most of us already know that probiotics or friendly bacteria help to prevent colonization by unwanted microorganisms, improves digestion and thus indirectly reduce inflammation by reducing the toxic load in the digestive tract. But very few people are aware of the direct anti-inflammatory effects of probiotics on an inflamed gut. To appreciate how this is done, we need to understand probiotics’ effects on some important white blood cells that form the integral part of our immune system.

 

Probiotics Increase Regulatory T Cells

For our immune system to function at its best, we need to have a balance of two different types of white blood cells namely the Helper T cells and the Regulatory T cells. The former specializes in attacking harmful molecules and the latter specializes in harmless ones. Regulatory T cells also play the critical role of calming down helper T cells after the foreign invaders are subdued. Without enough regulatory T cells to play this peacekeeping role, helper T cells may start to attack harmless molecules and healthy tissue in the body.

 

Probiotics create more regulatory T cells by signaling to the Dendritic cells that “all is well”. As part of our immune system, dendritic cells operate mostly in the intestines and their job is to train T cells to transform into either helper or regulatory cells. T cells are instructed to convert into helper T cells whenever dendritic cells encounter molecules in an area with damage signals, even if these molecules are harmless. With more “all is well” messages coming from the probiotics, more T cells turn to regulatory T cells, thus enhancing our ability to fight inflammation.

 

Research Findings

Even if you do not have obvious digestive problems, you may still have an inflamed gut. There is mounting evidence that gut inflammation is present in many people with chronic disease even though they may not experience obvious digestive symptoms. [A study reported in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology has shown that the majority of arthritis patients had chronic intestinal inflammation when examined under colonoscopy. Only 27% of these patients experience any intestinal symptoms.]

 

Studies show that people with inflammatory bowel disease have lower levels of friendly bacteria than people in good health. So increasing the probiotics level can be a safe and viable way to prevent and treat the condition. According to Professor Gary B. Huffnagle, author of the “Probiotics Revolution”, the probiotic strains that have been used successfully in animal studies are Lactobacillus reuteri, L. plantarum 299v, and L. rhamnosus GG.

 

If we can stop inflammation, our intestinal lining will absorb nutrients better and start to repair itself. And when the gut is functioning well, our chances of overcoming chronic illnesses are higher due to better detoxification and nutrient uptake. Probiotics serve as a cheap and safe way to restore health to our gut and help us manage our disease conditions more effectively.