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Arthritis and inflammation linked to certain healthy foods, new study finds – Daily Record

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An amino acid found in foods we eat every day could lead to arthritis, research suggests.

Scientists have linked an amino acid called tryptophan, which is in meat, dairy, nuts, and other food to the debilitating condition that causes pain and inflammation in the joints. Experts suggest that eating plans with less of this amino acid, such as the the Mediterranean diet, may be better for health.

Tryptophan helps our bodies make things like proteins and the chemicals that send messages through the nervous system. But sometimes, bacteria in our stomachs turn it into an inflammatory chemical that primes the immune system for arthritis, according to scientists at the University of Colorado.

This amino acid is found in foods like beef, chicken, milk, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and beans. Scientists wanted to know how something usually good for us can lead to diseases that cause pain and swelling, like rheumatoid arthritis, reports Gloucestershire Live.

To do this they put mice onantibiotics to wipe out their microbiome. They found that when tryptophan is broken down into indole, which is found in faeces, the mice developed autoreactive T-cells that are more inflammatory.

Food for good mood and happiness. Serotonin sources
Tryptophan is found in lots of healthy foods
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Kristi Kuhn, who is an associate professor, said: “It’s been known that the microbiome the bacteria in our gut can break down tryptophan into byproducts. Some of those byproducts are anti-inflammatory, but we’ve also associated some inflammatory causes of those products.”

“We’re the first to highlight which products are contributing to inflammation, and how they are doing that.”

The researchers hope that their findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation back in December could hold the key to future arthritis treatments. Dr Kuhn added: “If tryptophan hits our body’s cells, it tends to go get broken down into anti-inflammatory products versus when it hits the bacterial cells and goes more inflammatory.”

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“The ways we think about how this could lead to therapies are: How do you keep that balance tipped so that tryptophan goes towards that anti-inflammatory pathway? How can you manipulate intestinal bacteria to tip that balance? That’s where we’re interested in going in the future.”

“A diet that’s rich in plant-based fibres and lean meats – this whole Mediterranean diet – seems to push the microbiome into a healthier state, so that you are getting the anti-inflammatory properties of tryptophan, whereas the typical western diet seems to go more toward the inflammatory pathway.”

She concluded: “We have started to understand the at-risk stage, where we can actually identify people who are likely to progress to rheumatoid arthritis within the next few years based on blood markers.”

“There’s some data that suggests we could intervene during that period and prevent disease, but we’re not quite sure yet what are the right ways to intervene.”

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