Your gut flora plays a critical role in your immune system. In many respects, the 100 trillion microorganisms that line your gut, function as a second organism within an organism. Your gut flora regulates immune responses, inflammation, removal of toxins & heavy metals, roles in your digestion and in the synthesis of B-vitamins, fats and fat-soluble vitamins. These are some of its most important functions.
Our gut flora is influenced by a variety of factors related to: diet, environmental factors, body burden of toxicity, as well as our genetic predispositions.
The role of genetics and our health is a rapidly evolving field of study and interest, and researchers continue to produce breakthroughs in understanding this relationship. New developments continue to emerge regarding the role of our genetics and the functionality of our gut flora microbes.
Recent research has identified a key gene that influences gut bacteria in a major way. This gene is known as FUT2, or fucosyltransferase 2. Genetic mutations in FUT2 has shown to be a link towards decreases in bifidobacterium, a key, beneficial microbial colony that lines the gut. Additionally, research shows that FUT2 mutations are strongly associated with Crohn’s Disease, an inflammatory and autoimmune bowel condition.
Role Of FUT2 In the Gut
FUT2 is involved in the formation of an immune complex known as the H antigen. FUT2 forms a sugar-polymer known as oligosaccharide. Oligosaccharides become food for gut flora. FUT2 regulates the expression of certain “blood-group antigens”, and as such directly influence bowel flora concentrations. Approximately 20% of the population have FUT2 gene mutations.
Carriers of the FUT2 (fucosyltransferase 2) genetic mutations have been shown to have lower concentrations of the gut microbe, bifidobacterium, as well as a greater predisposition towards Crohn’s Disease and elevated serum concentrations of Vitamin B-12. Interestingly, these FUT2 “non-secretors” appear to have a greater resistance towards certain pathogenic infections such as H Pylori, as well as protection against certain viruses.
What Do I Do If I Have The FUT2 Gene Mutation?
Because the FUT2 non-secretors tend to have abnormal gut flora concentrations, pro-active attention should be warranted. Nutritional-related strategies that improve upon bowel flora concentrations can have powerful impacts upon the overall health of the individual. These therapies may in fact serve as the best preventative strategies to prevent the development of Crohn’s disease.
These may include intensive probiotic therapies, individualized nutritional therapies, as well as the exclusion of factors which may further damage and weaken the gut ecology. These damaging factors may include:
- Increased exposure to toxic metals and chemicals. Extensive research has shown that toxic metals damage gut flora. Mercury, for example has been shown to produce antibiotic-resistant forms of pathogenic bacteria.
- Increased use of antibiotics. Antibiotics of all types are well established to damage the intestinal flora. A recent study has shown that only after 11 days of antibiotic treatment, gut flora protein production decreased significantly, and decreases of iron uptake and the digestion of certain foods was significantly diminished as well.
It is significant to address that just because you have FUT2 gene mutations, there is no guarantee that you will develop Crohn’s disease. Genetic mutations should not confine one into thinking there is nothing that can be done to improve one’s health. On the contrary, gene mutations should serve as a “wake-up call” for you to become serious and more pro-active with your health and nutrition practices.
Fortunately, there are existing nutritional-related strategies to address certain genetic mutations. Many researchers believe that these therapies are the future of medicine. Even though gene mutations cannot be corrected, in many cases, it is possible to “bypass” certain mutations, by providing nutrients which may otherwise be missing. This may be true for gene mutations such as MTHFR.
If you are a health practitioner and are interested in understanding more on the subject of MTHFR and gene mutations, I recommend my MTHFR, Methylation, & Biochemistry Master Course, as an excellent starting point.