As part of our series on inflammation and disease, we started by learning how systemic inflammation is an overactive immune response generated to help our body fight trauma. We also learned about the close role our gut ecosystem plays on a healthy immune response. And finally, how gut dysbiosis not only impacts normal communications between the two – but how it can lead to the migration of gut microbes into our blood and other tissues.
The Circulatory System
Our blood is our life force. It carries one of the most diverse and active systems in our body – carrying nutrients, clearing out waste, transferring signals, and bringing molecules (like oxygen) from one organ to another. If you thought Amazon was efficient for shipping, your blood is on an entirely different level. Nowadays, this highly effective system is even considered its own organ.
Made up of a network of blood, the heart, and a variety of sized vessels, the circulatory system is an essential aspect of communication between the brain and the rest of the body. This transport scheme systematically pumps oxygen-rich blood to our extremities and brain, and oxygen-poor blood back to the heart and lungs. But along the way, it picks up little molecules here and there from other organs, such as nutrients from the gut, and hormones from the adrenal glands.
To keep our blood clean, the circulatory system utilizes the kidneys, spleen, and liver as a filtration system to remove waste and keep out bacteria. Our vessels can transport quite a bit of blood (Nearly 1.5 gallons in the average adult) and is our greatest asset in keeping our organs functioning as they should.
The Lymphatic System
Alongside our blood vessels, another system - called the lymphatic system - helps facilitate the transport of our immune cells throughout our body. This system represents the other 30% of our immune cells outside of the GALT and acts like little immune-hubs with locations found all over the body. Closely related to the blood, these immune cells can be found and housed in our bone marrow, lymph nodes, spleen, and thymus. Red blood cells, macrophages, B cells and T cells, lymphocytes and more originate from these sites.
The lymphatic system consists of its very own vessel system separate from blood with the sole focus of dealing with assault. However, to enable an appropriate immune response, these two systems work together to transport and clear out invasive molecules and microbes.
When Microbes Cross the Line
As we discussed, systemic inflammation can be caused from a chronic and ongoing issue within the body. In the case of leaky gut syndrome, microbes break-through the thin lining in the digestive tract and find themselves in a new, unexplored world. Interested in colonizing this new-found land, they enter the bloodstream looking for a place to call home. Fortunately, once their presence is detected, our immune system jumps to respond. Consequently, our lymphatic system and our GALT go to work by recruiting immune cells into circulation to help clear out the invaders. But recruitment takes time – and training – and as our immune system builds up its defenses, microbes are nestling in places all throughout our body.
Researchers have found that circulating microbes in the blood find safety in all sorts of locations, such as the brain. A number of conditions like Alzheimer's disease, autism disorder, and many others are hypothesized to have origins from microbial infiltration into the brain. Because entry into our blood system provides many microbes a direct pathway to the brain, studies are constantly diving into their repercussions.
You may consider our circulatory system as an unexpected facilitator of microbial damage. And where there is damage, there’s inflammation.
From Trauma to Inflammation
As we mentioned in our first series article Inflammation and the Gut: Part 1, gut dysbiosis can harm our gut health (leading to leaky gut) and can change how effectively messages get transmitted to our immune system. This communication is essential for not only relaying messages to activate our immune cells, but to halt them as well.
You can think of it like a series of unfortunate events: an imbalanced gut disrupts messages to our immune cells and can lead to an unhealthy gut lining. As the lining decays, microbes break into our bloodstream and find new places to call home. When an immune response does ensue, many of the messages get lost and the overwhelming immune response results in systemic inflammation. It’s in this way that microbes use and abuse our own circulatory system against us. The same information highway we use to keep our tissues healthy gets hijacked – and our immune system receives mixed signals. But every transaction leaves a “paper trail,” and scientists are now tracking certain signals to decipher what’s happening inside you.
At Viome, we’ve researched and documented key signatures and metabolites from many microbes that call us home. Whether in our bloodstream or our gut – these markers can be traced. And the result of systemic inflammation inside you can be assessed. Part of our Health Intelligence™ test takes a snapshot of your blood to determine the impact of your immune system and your overall tissue health. Your blood is an interstate of information we can use to track the good guys, and the bad guys.
We’re committed to improving your overall health, and not just the health of your gut (although, the two are interlinked!). And now, utilizing your Health Intelligence scores, we’re getting a more comprehensive idea of how to navigate dietary changes made for you and the current state of your body.
The consequences of inflammation can sway the health of our cells. From overall cellular health down to the health of your mitochondria, inflammation can inflict serious damage. Just halting the symptoms of inflammation is not enough. It is simply an expression of something much more serious. And where our mitochondria are concerned, you can expect significant repercussions.
Recent research has shown that mitochondria are more than just the little engines of our cells. They drive communications that determine a cell’s life expectancy and reproduction. Moreover, they are responsible for key signals used for communicating with our immune system. Luckily, Viome’s Health Intelligence Services examines these interactions to help show the impact of inflammation within you.
You can fight back against systemic inflammation. Now is the best time to take a look inside you and learn how to defend yourself against chronic disease. In our next article, we’ll break down how systemic inflammation can cause long-term damage to your most important organ: the brain. From the gut, to your blood, to your brain – this is the story of inflammation and how you can feel empowered about changing your health for the you today and the you of the future.
How Viome’s Immune System Health score works
Because Viome provides tools to Measure your body’s unique biology on a molecular level, you’re able to check in with your body and immune response, find out how efficiently your body is operating. With your health scores, you see the areas that need attention and can support them with our precise nutritional recommendations to help regain optimal health and boost immunity.
Viome’s Health Intelligence measures inflammatory activity in both your body’s systems (with a blood sample) and your microbiome (with a stool sample). The Human Gene Expression™ (blood) analysis reveals cellular pathways related to acute or low-grade inflammation, while the Gut Intelligence™ analysis can reveal microbial or GI factors, including your gut lining health.
If your Immune System Health score is not optimal, it means that your immune system's preparedness for invading bacteria or viruses needs support. We may recommend specific foods or Precision Supplements™ that address harmful microbial activities, stimulate anti-inflammatory nutrients (like the short-chain fatty acids produced by the gut microbiome), or suppress pro-inflammatory molecules or allergy-related reactions in the body.
Your Immune System Health score is calculated using several different Functional Health Scores, all of which have influence over the levels of immune response in your body:
- Inflammatory Activity to measure microbial activity that contribute to or reflect inflammation in your gut environment,
- Cellular Stress to measure pathway activities that either lead to or are reflective of cellular stress, damage, and dysfunction,
- Immune System Activation to measure whether or not your immune system is over or under-functioning, and
- Gut Lining Health to measure the health of the mucosal layer that protects your gut.
All these scores and over 25 more are included with our Health Intelligence. Begin your journey to better health, wellness and immunity today!
To be continued: Inflammation, Immunity, and Your Brain: Part 3!
The information on the Viome website is provided for informational purposes only and with the understanding that Viome is not engaged in rendering medical advice or recommendations. Viome provides this educational information to share the exciting developments being reported in the scientific literature about the human microbiome and your health. Viome products are not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.