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GUT HEALTH AND CHRONIC PAIN

All of us know that pain is an unpleasant sensation and can happen with or even without tissue damage. In this blog let us look at how our gut health or lack of it will determine how much and how long the pain remains with us and what to do about it.

Pain simply put is an immune response to an antigen ( injury, threat of injury). This leads to activation of our immune system just like forces are primed before a war our immune system is in a state of alert.

When the pain is chronic ( more than 3 months), it can alter the gene function of the immune system. This will affect how the T cells, a group that is very important to regulate immune functions, respond. This in turn will release Proinflammatory cells aka Cytokines. This will keep the inflammation and the pain drive alive and thus you are stuck with pain that either comes back every now and then or remains with you even after the tissue damage is over.

GUT-BRAIN AXIS

It is the communication between the nerve cells in the gut and the microbiota with the brain and the spinal cord. If the gut microbiome is diverse and healthy it gives accurate signals to the brain to turn down the pain stimulus and that’s the ideal situation.

When for any reason the gut health is poor ( medications, stress, leaky gut, nutrient-deficient foods)  the microbes release chemicals which sensitize the nervous system, increase the cortisol ( stress hormone) levels in the blood, and put us in a state of alarm. This can increase the pain and prevent full recovery.

In short, a happy gut makes a happy brain and a pain-free life.

TIPS FOR A HEALTHY GUT

Eat native and diverse foods.

Hydrate well

Manage stress

Sleep hygiene

Move and move more of you.

ADDITIONAL READING

Immune responses of microglia in pain

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014488611004730

Immune activation – role of pro inflammatory cytokines

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/0304395995001867

Pian regulation by gut microbiota

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0007091219306385

Gut-brain axis

https://journals.physiology.org/doi/full/10.1152/physrev.00018.2018?rfr_dat=cr_pub

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gut%E2%80%93brain_axis

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