You’ve probably already read about some of the ways that probiotics influence the body outside of the skin, groin, and gut. They can determine whether you’re fat or thin, happy or depressed, and what kind of hobbies you like. Which bacteria you have can even influence which diseases you get, as is the case in this new research about Crohn’s patients.

Some Crohn’s patients carry a specific type of E. coli that may make them more likely to develop a type of arthritis called Spondyloarthritis. Spondyloarthritis mostly attacks the spine, but could also attack arm and leg joints and even soft tissue. Identifying patients who are at risk could mean offering them preventative treatment and support (like antioxidants).

While researchers have been collecting data about the different colonies of bacteria we carry (because it’s not just what strains we carry, but how they’re mixed together that matters) they haven’t identified too many specific cause and effect scenarios (there are just too many combinations!); but this new study is the beginning of work that could unravel how the probiotic colonies in our gastrointestinal tracts impact us.

Keeping Out Pathogens

E. coli is not generally considered a “good” bacteria, so how’d it get in? The short of it is that our gut colonies need a lot more support than they’re getting, which I’ll get to how down below, but the long of it is modern living has been bad for them. Compared to the few “isolated” tribes left, our bacterial colonies are pretty sparse, even being as complex as they are. Then they’re further taxed by everything from diet choices, to c-sections, to how hygienic we are (don’t go rolling in dirt or anything, you need to be clean but not sterile), how much we exercise, stress, and what medications we take (especially antibiotics!).

The two biggest things you can do to support your gut are to eat lots of veggies (prebiotics like garlic and onion, for instance) and to replenish your colonies with a good probiotic. You can turn every label at the grocery store looking for a yogurt with more than two active strains, or you can choose a high-quality probiotic supplement like Flora MGR.

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