What is the Microbiome?
Researchers think that part of the reason why the women experienced the flares is because the body interacts closely with the microbiome. The body reacts to its microbe companions by regulating the immune system by activating or de-activating certain genes in the DNA.
For decades, scientists have known that the bacteria and other organisms that live in our stomach and intestines have a lot to do with how easy it is to maintain a healthy weight. This living ecosystem inside us is called the gut microbiome , and it is vital to our health.
The gastrointestinal tract – the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines – are a sensitive place for people with lupus.
Food enters through the mouth, where it is chewed, swallowed down the esophagus, and enters the stomach, where it is digested. In the intestines, nutrients and water are absorbed into the bloodstream to be used by the body. Every part of this cycle, from the teeth in the mouth, to the muscles that move the food through the system, to the enzymes that are secreted by the body to break down the food, to the walls of the intestines that absorb nutrients and keep invading bacteria out – all of these parts can be affected by lupus. Medications can also influence how these organs work, and the bacteria that live there.
The microbiome of the gut live mainly in the small and large intestines, though some acid-tolerant bacteria can live in the stomach. The mouth also has its own microbiome, affected by the air you breathe, anything that passes through the mouth, and dental hygiene.
In mice, just changing what species of bacteria live in their guts can drastically change their weight and health, even switching body types between mice. While gut microbiome transplants are not currently recommended for humans, we can change a lot about our microbiome by changing our diets and literally feeding it differently.