A study developed by researchers from CINTESIS – Center for Health Technology and Services Research, in partnership with the NOVA Medical School reveals that food is associated with the development of inflammatory joint diseases, such as spondyloarthritis.
According to the study, the alteration of the intestinal microbiota – the largest bacterial community in the human body responsible for the stability the body needs to perform its functions properly – translates into several pathologies related to inflammation of the joints.
The research highlights that altering the microbiota may provide colonization of pathogenic bacteria prone to intestinal inflammation that is developed in parallel with joint inflammation. The study also adds that about two-thirds of patients with chronic inflammatory diseases have some degree of intestinal inflammation.
The research team believes that eating habits may play a preventive or even a therapeutic role in modulating the microbiota and, consequently, in spondyloarthritis. That is, given that certain dietary interventions can reestablish the balance of the intestinal microbiota, they are considered good strategies in the evolution of chronic inflammatory diseases.
The main suggested dietary modifications are the reduction of starch consumption and the increase in consumption of polyphenols and n-3 fatty acids, due to their anti-inflammatory properties, with occasional reports indicating improvements when adopting a vegan diet.
The study also warns of obesity as a condition in which the microbiota is altered and therefore, one that can result in greater propensity for chronic inflammation.
At present, research on these diseases is limited. However, in the future researchers hope that other studies may identify the agents associated with the development of these diseases and the specific role of their modulation, as well as the effect of changes in eating habits as a therapeutic measure.
This work was carried out by Inês Barreiros Mota and Conceição Calhau, coordinator of the thematic line 1 – Preventive Medicine & Societal Challenges of CINTESIS.