Starchy food may ease autoimmune reactions for people with lupus. Experiments with mice show that certain gut bacteria exacerbate the disease, but consuming starch can halt their growth.
Lupus is a disease where a person’s immune system attacks their own body. Suspecting the condition could be affected by gut bacteria, Martin Kriegel at Yale University and his colleagues gave antibiotics to mice with lupus to deplete the bacteria in their gut. The results was that these mice then had less severe autoimmune responses and were twice as likely to survive than those that hadn’t had antibiotics.
The team found that the unhealthy mice had elevated levels of lactobacillus, hinting it may be involved with lupus. The bacteria also spread to their intestines, livers and spleens, which doesn’t happen in healthy mice. This may explain why lupus involves systemic immune responses in many organs in addition to the gut, says Kriegel.
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