How Your Gut Health Impacts Your Disease Risk

STORY AT-A-GLANCE

  • A significant proportion of your immune system resides in your gastrointestinal tract. Harvard researchers have now identified the specific population of gut bacteria that modulate localized and systemic immune responses to ward off viral invaders
  • Bacteroides fragilis and other bacteria in the Bacteroides family initiate a signaling cascade that induces the release of interferon-beta, which protects against viral invasion by stimulating immune cells to attack the virus and causing virus-infected cells to self-destruct
  • Zonulin-mediated gut permeability plays a determining role in the pathogenesis of many chronic inflammatory diseases. Zonulin is produced in response to bad bacteria. It flushes the bacteria out by opening up the tight junctions
  • Aside from bacteria overgrowth, gluten is a powerful trigger of zonulin release as the zonulin pathway misinterprets gluten as a potential harmful component of a microorganism
  • Chronic inflammatory diseases associated with dysregulation of the zonulin pathway and leaky gut include autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, intestinal diseases, neuroinflammatory diseases and cancer of the brain and liver 

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