Our understanding of the gut connection to overall health is always expanding. From the gut-brain and gut-skin connection to the gut-joint and gut-immune connection, it’s obvious that gut health is crucial for overall health. A new study published in the Journal of Cellular Physiology is helping to solidify yet another gut connection: the gut-bone connection. Using an animal model, the researchers found that the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri enhanced bone density in males, but not females, after four weeks.

“We know that inflammation in the gut can cause bone loss, though it’s unclear exactly why,” noted lead researcher Laura McCabe, PhD. “The neat thing we found is that a probiotic can enhance bone density.” More studies are needed to determine whether this probiotic has the same effect in humans, but it provides a great starting point. We already have so many amazing examples of how probiotics affect many different areas of health.

“Through food fermentation, we’ve been eating bacteria that we classify as probiotics for thousands of years,” stated Robert Britton, PhD, another researcher. “There’s evidence that this bacterium as a species has co-evolved with humans. It’s indigenous to our intestinal tracts and is something that, if missing, might cause problems.”

Could an optimal gut balance be the answer to osteoporosis, a condition that involves the thinning and weakening of bones? Current drug treatments for this condition modify the bone remodeling process in a way that can actually make bones prone to breaking. Perhaps one day we will look to our digestive tracts to help us improve bone health. The gut is certainly where I recommend we begin any health journey.