Microorganisms and bacteria help our bodies function. Can probiotics, or “good” bacteria, help reduce lupus symptoms?
Good bacteria may seem like an oxymoron. But, bacteria play a vital role in the human body, particularly in the intestines where they help digest folic acid and certain vitamins.
So, what are probiotics?
Probiotics are particular microorganisms that are believed to offer health benefits when eaten or taken in a supplement. This concept of ingesting living microorganisms, including bacteria, to improve health is attributed to Élie Metchnikoff in the early 1900s. Metchnikoff noticed that the Bulgarian peasants lived longer and believed it was because they ate yogurt.
Gut health is important in autoimmune conditions like lupus because a huge portion of the immune system is in your GI tract. And, common lupus medications like antibiotics are known to reduce the amount of “good” bacteria in the body.
While little is known on exactly how they interact and the particular mechanisms, a lot of research is being done on the role of bacteria in the gut.
Why are so many people talking about probiotics for lupus?
If you look all across the web, from message boards to articles, it can seem like everyone is pitching a new natural remedy for lupus. One of the latest trends in holistic medicine is probiotics.
They recently made big news in lupus after research was published that suggested that probiotics could help reduce kidney inflammation in females with lupus.
While it can be tempting to try holistic remedies, especially if your current treatment isn’t working, it is always important to do your research and bring up any treatment and/or diet changes with your lupus treatment team first.
What are other Lupus Warriors saying about probiotics?
LupusCorner conducted a survey of people with lupus to better understand the value of diet changes and supplements. The survey has been taken by 792 people.
Results: Of the 442 people with lupus that have used supplements to battle lupus, 25% have tried probiotics. And, 75% of people that used probiotics found them valuable.
You can see the complete results and add your own experiences here:
What does the research say about probiotics for lupus?
There has been limited research conducted on the effectiveness of probiotics for managing lupus in humans. However, a study was recently published exploring their value in mice with lupus nephritis.
A study recently published in the journal Microbiome explored the impact of adding lactobacillus, a probiotic found in yogurt, to the diets of mice with lupus nephritis. The study found that the probiotics led to improvement in kidney function and increased survival for female mice and males who had been castrated. Interestingly, no improvement was found in male mice with fully functioning sex organs — suggesting an interaction between sex hormones and gut microbiota.
Future studies, and future studies in humans, are needed to further explore these potential benefits.
How can I add probiotics to my diet?
An easy way to add probiotics to your diet is with yogurt. One thing to consider: Not all yogurt is created equally. Brands with fruit or fruit flavoring can have a lot of added sugar, which can have a negative impact.
Be sure to bring up any diet or treatment options with your doctor before making any major changes as they may be aware of alternative treatments or potential interaction effects.