NSAIDs and Gut Health

We know how important the gut microbiota is for optimal health. We also know that gut dysbiosis has been found to be associated with diseases like Type 2 Diabetes, mellitus, cardiovascular, and inflammatory bowel disease as well as brain pathologies like autism, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Additionally, we know the implications that antibiotic use can have on the delicate microbiota ecosystem. But, there is also another area of concern that can have profound implications on gut health, and that is Non-Steroidal Anti- Inflammatory Drugs (NSAID’s). NSAID’s are commonly taken to treat inflammatory issues like arthritis and other injuries. But, what if taking NSAID’s are actually making the symptoms worse via creating more inflammation, and blunting the healing process?

NSAIDs and the gut lining

The lining of the gut is only 1 cell thick. This is important to note because this thin layer, known as epithelial cells, is all that lies between the gut and the blood stream. The gut epithelial cells are held together by junctions that allow nutrients like vitamins and minerals passage while keeping food particles at bay. However, when there is damage to the gut lining, intestinal hypermobility (better known as “leaky gut”) results.

We know that inflammation is at the core of almost all deteriorating conditions. Therefore gut health is critical to overall health because when one has a leaky gut, the gut lining that is normally selectively permeable (allowing passage of nutrients) is impacted, food particles can pass through the wall causing inflammation. It turns out that NSAIDs can impact this gut lining reducing gut barrier function.

It is unfortunately far too common to see athletes pop NSAIDs during not only competition but also on rest and recovery days. It is also common to see average folks taking them to reduce everyday pain. We now know how pivotal gut health is to overall health and especially brain health. If we are to improve recovery, health, energy, cognitive performance, and nervous system function then we need to be aware and take steps to promote gut health. When we improve the health of the gut we will see reductions in inflammation. With this reduced inflammation an increase in recovery will follow. This increased recovery will probably limit the need for NSAIDs to be taken in the first place!

Start with addressing health and examine the cause of your symptoms rather than taking pills to treat them. Additionally, be conscious that taking NSAIDs can damage the gut lining increasing the potential for “leaky gut” and associated inflammation.

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