Why the Health of Your Knees & Joints Can Depend on Your Gut Bacteria
6 minute read
If you read the news, go online, or watch television; it seems like probiotics are everywhere. Well, everywhere except where they belong—in your gut.
The problem is the western diet is typically high in fat, which can alter the microbes in your gut. Adding a natural supplement can correct this imbalance and help you avoid future complications, like joint pain.
That’s right, new research has shed light on the connection that bacteria in your gut can have on the health of your joints. Understanding this connection can help better treat the discomfort you experience.
Gut Bacteria and Knee Pain
On the surface, it’s hard to see how your knee pain can be related to your gut bacteria, but there is a connection.
It’s long been known that there is a correlation between obesity and osteoarthritis (OA). It was previously thought that the additional weight of obese people put extra stress on bones and joints, causing osteoarthritis pain and symptoms.
Some researchers posit that there is a deeper connection, that the systemic inflammation seen in OA sufferers is caused by a gut microbiome imbalance. The theory is that the poor diets of the obese change gut bacteria into an unhealthy environment with less of the bifidobacterial, an anti-inflammatory bacteria, and more “bad” bacteria.
In addition to discovering that there is a connection between the diet of obese people and gut bacteria, the subsequent realization that this change in gut bacteria leads to systemic inflammation and the connection to OA, it is believed that “fixing” the gut bacteria could reverse symptoms of OA.
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To create a healthy, anti-inflammatory shift in gut bacteria, it is suggested that the beneficial prebiotic found in indigestible fiber oligofructose supports the return of Bifidobacteria in the intestine.
The re-introduction of this type of bacteria into the gut reduces inflammation, which helps with OA and relieves pain in joints that were previously caused by inflammation.
Not only do these bacteria help with inflammation, but they also improve insulin sensitivity.
The key is the use of fiber oligofructose. This fiber cannot be digested by the human body, but Bifidobacteria happily feeds on it and grows.
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This promotes healthy anti-inflammatory reactions on a microbial level. When studied in obese mice, the connection between increased Bifidobacteria and reduced joint inflammation was evident.
The mice even became less diabetic as a result. But it’s important to note that they did not lose weight. The takeaway is that diet and exercise can still play an important, if not vital, role in preventing and managing osteoarthritis.
If you’re sold on the benefits of healthy gut bacteria, you’re probably wondering how to get your gut in ship-shape condition. The following tips can help you improve gut bacteria, but the overarching theme is making healthy lifestyle choices.
Eat Better: A healthy diet that’s packed with fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will give you a natural boost in good gut bacteria. In addition to adding fiber, look for fermented foods and diversify your diet.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners: We know that sugar is not a great addition to your diet but replacing it with artificial sweeteners can negatively affect your gut microbiota.
Add Prebiotics: You can take prebiotic supplements, or you can go the natural route and begin incorporating foods that contain prebiotics in them. It’s important to note that probiotics and prebiotics are different. Prebiotics feed the probiotics and help them grow.
Supplement Your Probiotics: While each gut microbiome is unique to the individual, as mentioned above, there are some strains of good gut bacteria that have been singled out as being deficient in many people who live in western countries due to their diets.
One of these missing bacteria is Bifidobacteria. Adding a powerful probiotic supplement puts you back on track to boosting these bacteria in your gut.
Exercise: It makes sense that what we eat (or don’t eat) can affect our gut bacteria, but studies have also proven that exercise affects gut bacteria. The benefits of a well-rounded exercise program are well documented and now you can add gut health to the list. All the more reason to flex those muscles.
The Bottom Line
If you’re concerned about joint health and osteoarthritis, it’s definitely in your best interest to look into your gut health and see if there’s something you can do.
As science continues to discover new ways in which our gut bacteria influence our health, it’s of growing importance to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. With the right probiotics on your side, you’ll have an easier time getting, walking, and running through your day.