New Findings on the Role of Diet and Gut Bacteria in People with Lupus
According to new research, a certain type of dietary fiber known as “resistant starch” may have an impact on lupus disease activity by affecting one’s gut microbiome – the naturally occurring community of bacteria and other microscopic organisms within the gastrointestinal tract. Resistant starch is a type of fiber that resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine, acting as a “prebiotic,” meaning it feeds the good kind of bacteria there. Some of these good gut bacteria, in turn, have been linked to immune system benefits and reduced disease activity in lupus and lupus-related antiphospholipid syndrome (APS, a condition that can cause blood clots and other health problems).
In the latest study, researchers looked at people with lupus and lupus-related APS and analyzed how much resistant starch they ate per day as well as their gut bacteria makeup. Although none of the study participants consumed a diet considered high in resistant starch (more than 15 grams per day), even moderate resistant starch consumption (2.5 to 15 grams daily) was associated with larger quantities of the good bacteria Bifidobacterium, which has known immune system benefits. Additionally, people with APS who ate moderate amounts of resistant starch had smaller amounts of bad bacteria that have been linked to the disease.
Dietary sources of resistant starch include:
- Oats and barley
- Beans, peas and lentils
- Plantains and green bananas
- Rice and potatoes that have been cooked and then cooled
While much remains unknown about the connection between diet and lupus, eating a nutritious, well-balanced and varied diet is recommended. Learn more about diet and nutrition with lupus.