How many of you know what probiotics are?
I’m betting most of you do, am I right?
How many of you think it’s for gut issues or to get/maintain a healthy gut?
Again, most of you?
What would you say if I said that there are now studies saying that these little guys help more than just your gut but rather also health factors in patients with autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis?
There are increasingly more information suggesting that the status of our gut flora has overreaching impact on our overall health including health conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and other diseases.
In a study of 60 patients with rheumatoid arthritis ranging in age from 25 to 70, patients were assigned to two groups, either receiving placebo or probiotic. In this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, the 30 patients who received a daily capsule of probiotic received Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, and Bifidobacterium bifidum. The placebo capsule was filled with cellulose. Fasting blood samples were taken at the beginning before the study began and also again at the end. The duration of the study was 8 weeks.
During that time, the probiotic therapy group showed at the end of the study that their overall parameters were improved compared to placebo. The treatment group had significant improvement in their inflammatory marker (hs-CRP level), homeostatic model assessment B-cell function, serum insulin levels, and Disease Activity Score in the rheumatoid arthritis patients. The total cholesterol and LDL also were showing borderline significant improvement in the treatment group.
So, what can you take away from this study?
First, the species they used were simple common species found in most probiotics and they are generally safe enough for most patients to take.
Second, even if you don’t have “gut issues,” having healthy gut flora support may in fact help with parameters associated with inflammation, autoimmune disease status, sugar metabolism and lipid metabolism.
Based on this knowledge, would I recommend probiotics for autoimmune disease patients?
Both because a lot of autoimmune disease patients have gut issues and also because even if they don’t, it seems to help their disease-associated issues anyways.
The only caveat is that autoimmune disease patients can be complicated and immunocompromised. So, autoimmune disease patients should always check with their doctors before starting any supplements because of their disease and potential medication complexity.
There are a lot of species of probiotic strains so how do you know which ones are safe to take?
If you’re not sure if it’s safe for you, check with your doctor first. There’s an overriding rule that if you are immunocompromised, certain species are not ideal and can overgrow. Therefore, please check with your doctor first.
If you are otherwise healthy and have no immunodeficiency issues, a healthy mix of probiotic strains, such as the ones chosen for this study, should be viable options for your healthy gut goals...as well as a great way to target your overall health.
Zamani B, et al. Clinical and metabolic response to probiotic supplementation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases. Sept 2016. 19 (9):869-879