Research has been shining new light on the human microbiome as a possible factor in who gets rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune illnesses. The microbiome is the collection of microbes that have residence in our gastrointestinal tracts.
This community is made up of trillions of cells and usually weighs one to three pounds. Each of us has more microbiome cells than our own cells. This can be so because bacteria cells are much smaller than human cells.
Medscape.com describes the gut microbiome as being important in developing and maintaining our immune systems. The more information becomes available, the greater the chance that new and better treatments may become possible.
These bacteria are now believed to influence many aspects of our lives. Some can prevent some diseases while others may trigger illnesses.
As autoimmune illnesses have been multiplying in the last few decades, microbiome research, as well as study of the compounds produced by microbes, may hold a key or two in treating and/or preventing some of these diseases.
Jose Scher, a rheumatologist at New York University and the director of NYU’s Microbiome Center for Rheumatology and Autoimmunity, saw a potential connection between rheumatoid arthritis and intestinal bugs. He is hopeful that further data about the microbiome in the future may make arthritis treatment a future reality.
Martin Blaser, a microbiologist at NYU, as reported in an article on TheAtlantic.com, observed that our microbiomes have gone through drastic changes in the last hundred years. These changes have sped up in the last half century, due to differences in our diets, the increased effects of chemicals and diminished exposure to nature, and the pervasive antibiotic presence medically and in our food.
Researches say that members of our microbiome use us to avoid attack by other invaders, and actively influence our immune systems for their own advantage. Unfortunately while they are protecting themselves, our immune systems may be out of balance because of this, leaving us more vulnerable to other bacteria, as well as autoimmune conditions.
Two-thirds of your immune cells are in your gut.