High Levels of Rare Gut Bacteria May Be Linked to Restless Leg Syndrome

There are hundreds of species of bacteria in your intestines. Each species plays a different role in your health and requires different nutrients for growth. Generally speaking, a diverse microbiota is considered to be a healthy one.

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of nutrients for a healthy microbiota. They are high in fiber, which can’t be digested by your body. However, fiber can be digested by certain bacteria in your gut, which stimulates their growth. Beans and legumes also contain very high amounts of fiber.

Some high-fiber foods that are good for your gut bacteria include:

  • Raspberries
  • Artichokes
  • Green peas
  • Broccoli
  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Beans (kidney, pinto and white)
  • Whole grains

Consuming Fermented foods may also be of benefit. These are foods altered by microbes. The process of fermenting usually involves bacteria or yeasts converting the sugars in food to organic acids or alcohol. One common example of fermented foods is the yogurt you love taking so much. So you are actually doing your gut bacteria a lot of good each time you consume your favourite yogurt brand.

Prebiotics also promote the growth of beneficial microbes in the gut. They are mainly fiber or complex carbs that can’t be digested by human cells. Instead, certain species of bacteria break them down and use them for fuel. Many fruits, vegetables and whole grains contain prebiotics, but they can also be found on their own.


Overgrowth of Gut Bacteria Linked To Restless Leg Syndrome

Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a sensorimotor disorder characterized by a complaint of a strong, nearly irresistible urge to move the limbs that is often accompanied by other uncomfortable sensations. These symptoms begin or worsen during periods of rest or inactivity such as lying down or sitting, are partially or totally relieved by movement such as walking or stretching, and occur exclusively or predominantly in the evening or at night.

Small intestine bacteria overgrowth (SIBO) is a condition in which rare gut-residing bacteria are over-represented in the gut. Small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) has been shown to be more prevalent among patients with restless legs syndrome (RLS), according to preliminary findings from a small, new study. The results show that SIBO was found in all seven participants who have RLS during the study. In contrast, the prevalence of SIBO in the general population is estimated to be no more than 15%.

The study participants completed questionnaires concerning sleep and SIBO symptoms and took home a fecal collection kit and a SIBO breath test kit. Fecal samples were examined by the University of Minnesota Genomics Center, and SIBO breath samples were evaluated by Aerodiagnostics for hydrogen and methane abnormalities.

Low iron in the brain is also a key risk factor for RLS. According to the authors, this brain iron deficiency may be secondary to dietary iron deficiency or, potentially, gut inflammation.

Additional study participants continue to be recruited at the Stanford Sleep Center. Further analyses will examine fecal microbial composition, subtypes of RLS iron deficiency, and comparisons with insomnia.


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