Lately, much of my work has been focused on the relationship between the gut and MS. As I experience ongoing gut issues, I need to learn how to advocate for myself by learning as much as I can about gut bacteria and finding the right doctors to help me.
I know how to advocate for my MS. Now it’s time to do the same for my gut health.
There’s a growing body of evidence that the bacteria found in our immune systems are somehow related to MS.
Research suggests that diet may help with changing the composition of gut bacteria. Multiple Sclerosis News Today reported on a pilot study conducted by Dr. Ilana B. Katz Sand to find out if the Mediterranean diet reduces MS symptoms.
The article, “Pilot Study is Testing Whether Mediterranean Diet Can Help MS Patients,” states that “recent studies have suggested that certain types of gut bacteria contribute to the worsening of MS.” Another study cited in the article suggests high levels of gut bacteria may trigger inflammatory responses.
At the recent Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Centers 2018 Annual Meeting (CMSC) the relationship between gut bacteria and MS was discussed by several doctors who talked about their studies and findings.
A recent article in Medscape, ”Gut Bacteria, Diet Significant in MS,” reported on the CMSC meeting and quoted Dr. Katz Sand, who is also associate medical director at Corinne Goldsmith Dickinson Center for MS at Mount Sinai Medical Center, and who “underscored the increasing interest in the bacterial composition of the gut and how it relates to MS.”
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“We know that 70% of the body’s immune system is housed inside the gut and there are very important communications between the immune system in the gut and the peripheral immune system, as well as direct communication between the gut and the central nervous system,” she said.
At the same CMSC meeting, Dr. Daniela Pimentel Maldonado, from the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, and co-author of one of the studies mentioned above, spoke to Medscape Medical News.
“In further research, we want to look at antibiotic use and questions such as whether patients have more urinary tract infections, which could prompt them to take more antibiotics and could change their gut microbiome,” she said.
Maldonado’s team continues to collect stool samples from patients so they can track more changes in the microbiome of patients.
In a study published by the National MS Society, Harvard researchers found that gut bacteria differ in people with and without MS, and also between people who are treated and untreated with disease-modifying treatments (DMTs). Further studies are needed, but it seems that gut bacteria may influence immune activity. If that’s so, then perhaps treatment strategies for MS will one day include ways to affect the gut microbiome.
For now, I’m trying to do whatever I can to change my diet, exercise, meditate, and consult with top doctors in the name of better gut health. It’s a slow work in progress, and I’m counting heavily on researchers worldwide to help me in my quest to feel better.
Bette Davis famously said, “Old age is not for sissies.” Nor is living with comorbidities.
Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.