Gut bacteria play an important role in determining the risk of developing wet age-related macular degeneration. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness affecting over 10 million people in North America alone.
AMD comes in wet and dry types, with wet AMD being the leading cause of blindness. Over time, treatments for AMD become less effective, so it is important to uncover newer treatments to tackle the problem in its early stages.
There have been many genetic studies with regards to AMD, but no specific genes associated with the development of AMD have been identified. For men, obesity and smoking were the top two factors for AMD development, but the underlying mechanisms of how exactly these factors affect AMD pathogenesis have been unclear. The researchers found that changes brought on by a fat-rich diet can lead to low-grade inflammation throughout the entire body, promoting disease, including wet AMD.
Dr. Przemyslaw (Mike) Sapieha explained, “Our study suggests that diets rich in fat alter the gut microbiome in a way that aggravates wet AMD, a vascular disease of the aging eye. Influencing the types of microbes that reside in your gut either through diet or by other means may thus affect the chances of developing AMD and progression of this blinding disease.”
Factors affecting gut bacteria
The term disbacteriosis refers to the imbalance in our gut flora. There are many reasons for disbacteriosis, including:
Protein deficiency: Protein is required for energy, and gut flora, too, requires energy. A protein deficiency limits the body’s ability to produce mucin, which helps keep the lining of the stomach protected.
Excess dietary fiber: Fiber is essential for proper digestion, but too much of a good thing can be bad in the case of fiber. Fiber by-products can destroy bacteria and amp your fiber requirements to make up for lost healthy bacteria.
Intestinal acidity: Excess acidity can lead to pancreatic disorders or obstructions. Acidic digestive juices can spill out into the intestines and destroy bacteria.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a result of some sort of infection, toxins, or poisoning. Diarrhea can strip you of good and bad bacteria.
Antibiotics and antibacterials: Not only do antibiotics and antibacterials destroy bad bacteria, but they can destroy good bacteria as well. It’s advised when taking antibiotics to also take prebiotics or probiotics to restore the gut flora.
Other notable causes of alterations in gut flora balance include:
- Food coloring
- Heavy metals
- Mercury from dental amalgam
Even though destroying good bacteria is bad, having too much good bacteria is also harmful – the key is balance. Here is a list of symptoms associated with an imbalance in gut flora:
- Excess gas
- Too little gas
- Chronic diarrhea
- Chronic bad breath
- Hormonal problems
- Menstrual cramps
- Prostate trouble
- Breast enlargement in men
- Yeast infections
- Chronic anemia
- Chronic respiratory problems
- Dairy products and food allergies
- Vitamin B deficiencies
- High cholesterol
- Neurological problems
- Severe bruising
- Chronic bladder infections
- Loss of muscle tissue (sarcopenia)