Increase These Gut Bacteria to Cure Lupus
-- A
nd These Foods Help
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November 11
, 2017
By Susan Callahan, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist

[Health and fitness articles are reviewed by our team of Doctors and
Registered Nurses, Certified fitness trainers and other members of our
Editorial Board.]

Recently, scientists have made important discoveries about
lupus.  The origins of this disease, whose technical name is
"Systemic lupus  erythematosus" has long been a mystery.
Why does lupus attack people in the prime of life, during child-
bearing years?  Why do some family members get it, while
others escape it?

Over 2 Million of Us Have Lupus

Lupus happens when the immune system's antibodies,
designed to repel bacteria or virus, instead attacks the body's
own cells.  Over two million Americans have lupus, according
to the latest figures from the Lupus Foundation of America.
Lupus is connected with estrogen, in ways that scientists do
not completely understand, and most sufferers of lupus are
young women between 19 and 45, the key childbearing age

The breakthroughs on lupus have come on the heels of
breakthroughs in understanding how our gut bacteria affects
certain diseases. The trillion germs in our guts outnumber our
own cells by a factor of 10 to 1.  There they have been all our
lives, these trillion hitchhikers, living in  a world within our
bodies that scientists call the "microbiome".

But they are not all harmless. Certain of these bacteria actually
are necessary to our survival. They help to breakdown hard to
digest carbohydrates, releasing in the process compounds that
help tell our brains when to stop eating.  Certain others of
these bacteria help to maintain a healthy, but not over-
reactive immune system.  

The Clues That Gut Bacteria Trigger Lupus

While the science of the microbiome is unfolding fast, it has
not completely unlocked the mystery of lupus. But there are
significant clues.

One clue was that lupus flare-ups happen after sufferers take

Antibiotics destroy bacteria. The destructive power of
antibiotics is broad, destroying both health-promoting bacteria
and bacteria destructive to our health.

Classes of antibiotics proven to trigger lupus flare-ups include
trimethoprim–sulfamethoxazole (Septra), tetracycline-related
antibiotics such as minocycline, and penicillin-type antibiotics
such as amoxicillin, according to a 2015 study led by scientists
from Virginia Tech University.

Which Types of Gut Bacteria Trigger Lupus?

We differ both in terms of the number of bacteria that
populate our guts and the types. Even identical twins have
different gut microbiomes.

In 2015,  a group of scientists led by Dr. Ariana Cuervo of the
University of Oviedo, set out to discover the identities of the
bacteria linked to lupus and whether eating certain foods
could promote or inhibit the growth of these bacteria.

They started with the observation learned from their previous
work that the gut bacterial environment of lupus patients is
out of balance when compared with the guts of people who
are free from the disease, a condition known as dysbiosis.

Specifically, the guts of people with lupus contain fewer
bacteria in the species Firmicutes, when compared with the
guts of healthy people. People sick with lupus contain more of
the species Bacteroidetes, again compared with healthy people.

By the way, high levels of bacteroidetes are bad sign not just
for lupus. High levels have also been found in people with
inflammatory bowel disease, the study notes.

Whole grains appear to be a key player in shifting the bacterial
environment toward higher counts of health-promoting
Firmicutes and away from high levels of the destructive

Diets that are low in fat but high in refined carbohydrates
increase the harmful bacteridetes and also, by the way,
increase body weight, according to a 2013 study from The
University of Reading, UK. Diets that are low in fat and high in
whole grains do the opposite. They lower levels of
bacteroidetes and also as a side benefit lower your body

To test whether diet could change the numbers of bacteria
that trigger lupus, the scientists from Spain assembled 20
women with lupus, between the ages of 35 and 70.

They then did detailed surveys of the diets of these
participants. What they discovered was that, compared to
healthy people, those suffering from lupus received their
antioxidant flavanones more from apples than oranges and
they hardly ever drank red wine. In fact, 80% of lupus
sufferers drank no red wine.

Other studies relied upon in the Spanish study have reported
that drinking red wine dramatically boosts levels of the health-
promoting Firmicutes in gut bacteria.

But perhaps the biggest surprise was the finding that not all
flavonoids are the same in terms of how they affect your gut
bacteria. They found a strong, positive relationship between
the flavonoids from orange and the type of bacteria that
reduce lupus flare-ups.

Before this study, there was a strong belief that flavonoids
were antimicrobial, meaning they are always antibacterial and

But this is not true. Orange flavonoids do not destroy bacteria
in your gut. As the study noted, "The positive association
between orange flavanones and Lactobacillus proportions
found in this study is not in accordance with previous
evidence of the antimicrobial activity of these flavonoids .

As of this point, we will need to resist drawing broad
conclusions from these studies. But it is very promising and
positive to learn that potentially, we could help to reduce
lupus flare-ups bu doing something as simple as adding more
oranges and Vitamin C to our diets.


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Eating oranges helps to promote
lupus-fighting gut bacteria