Impact of your body’s invisible inmates on your health: hypothesized correlation of FMF and your microbiome

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Don’t let the title bamboozle you, I’m going to break my theory down into easily-digestible bites and leave you inspired.

Let me wipe that confusion off your face. FMF is short for Familial Mediterranean Fever; the most common ‘rare’ (oxymoron alert!) autoinflammatory inherited disease that is mainly characterized by bouts of high fevers, inflammation of GI tract linings, intense joint pain, and a lot of other unpleasant stuff. Because it’s so rare, it has evaded medical limelight, and at best there is an expensive pill that sort of keeps symptoms at bay.

Now, the microbiome is that jolly group of microorganisms that live inside or on our bodies or certain body niches. So why am I writing about this? because I have seen this rare disease in action in all its glory, on multiple people living close to me, and have watched as a helpless bystander. But, after reading the science behind what companies like Ubiome are doing, I may have the beginnings of a home experiment I can conduct to eventually conquer this demon.

Being a microbiologist, I am cognizant of the existence of the hero and villain microbes. We obviously want the heros to thrive, partner with your loyal immune system, and beat up the invading villains and keep you smiling. But what happens when your own body turns rogue on you? That is autoinflammatory FMF. In easy words, you have two recessive genes (one from each parent) that come together and don’t do what they are supposed to do (in this case, cause defect in the pyrin inflammasome system), which causes your body to react randomly to unknown triggers and self-inflict a great deal of pain and lead to long-term deterioration of organs. So, obviously when I came across this article talking about how whether or not you actually develop the disease, despite the hereditary factor, *could* depend on your diet and (in turn) the composition of your gut microbiome? I was excited.

In all these years, It never once occurred to me that the GUT MICROBIOME could be a cure for this disease; although the signs were always there. Certain patterns came to light after backtracking previous attacks:

  • ‘Something’ you ate almost always caused it.
  • Not getting enough sleep and physical exertion was a big trigger.
  • An FMF attack was a guaranteed byproduct of long travel.
  • Staying in different countries caused different severity of attacks.
  • Very often, getting sick eventually led to an attack.
  • Attacks manifested differently in different patients from the same family with the same genotype.
  • Symptoms showed up in different lifetimes of different people.

All the above have on thing in common, they change the gut microflora! For the science geeks out there here is a more scientific backing to my conclusions.

So now just maybe these erratic attacks can be tamed by controlling your gut. This thought led me to the amazing work done by scientist and writer Giulia Enders. She meticulously explains to us in this fascinating Ted talk how the gut is the core of who we are. All of this even applies to us lucky majority without FMF. The charming science of your gut that you don’t speak or care to know off may actually be the entryway to health or rather, the ‘exit way’ of disease.

In conclusion, this angle to controlling FMF seems very promising and is something that I would love to see being actively worked upon in the near future. In fact I am going to experiment at home and update this post soon.

Enough talk, lets gut cracking!

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