Whether it’s from reflux or pancreas issues, the gut plays its own part in cystic fibrosis. A new bit of research, yep, this one, is now looking at how stomach bacteria could be affecting the lungs. It’s CF News. One, bacteria. Starting at the beginning. Our gut contains billions of different species of bacteria. Having the right combination of them has a healthy impact on the body. Unlike the, let’s say bad bacteria, the good type helps digest food, absorb nutrients and keep us generally ticking over. If you’re one of the 10,400 people with CF in the UK watching this, maybe unsurprisingly to you your gut bacteria doesn’t always work as it should. Unfortunately, a poor balance of bacteria in the gut causes lung inflammation and could lead to lung damage. Two. The CFTR protein. Let’s keep that good bacteria in mind. It was also found that people with more severe lung problems had fewer bacteria species in the gut than those with mild or no symptoms. Early findings suggest mutations in the CFTR gene, which causes cystic fibrosis, in part makes these severe changes to the CFTR gut. Three, CF treatments. One of the biggest elements in CF care? Antibiotics. Of course they often do a great job of killing off nasty bugs, but by their nature antibiotics get rid of some of the good bacteria too. If you think about it, it’s like spilling your drink on your shirt and using bleach to get the stain out. It’ll get rid of the stain, but might get rid of the shirt’s colour as well. To compound issues, many people with CF also take acid reflux treatments to calm down the stomach acid and stop it from rising up the oesophagus and getting into the lungs. Seems like these stomach settling drugs are lowering good bacteria in the gut too. Four, diet. You probably hear from you CF teams all of the time about the benefits of maintaining a good weight. It is thought that keeping a good weight, not always an easy job when there are problems in the pancreas, can help to halt the decline in lung function. Our scientists are looking at this in more detail, specifically, whether making a few changes to diet could give the gut back some of its healthy balance. They’re also looking at the chemicals in the gut and how they affect immune cells and influence inflammation and lung damage.