Systematic racism contributes to health inequities and partially manifests as daily episodes of discrimination. It is a threat to mental and physical health.
There are links between negative health outcomes, such as rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune inflammatory disease and chronic stress which may be induced by racism, says a recent article published on CNBC.
What does the latest research say?
The article highlighted a recent study where 154 patients underwent a brain MRI, fecal 16S rRNA sequencing, fecal metabolites and inflammatory markers measurements, as well as questioning about health and racial discrimination.
According to the analyses of microbiome, metabolome and immunomarkers by a discrimination scale, the study suggested that anxiety, depression, visceral sensitivity, cognition, self-perception, brain network alterations, as well as structural and functional changes in the gut microbiome, are all associated with discrimination.
However, the study emphasized covariates other than discrimination affecting the interplay of the gut-brain axis and systematic racism. The findings suggested that race was a significant confounder of gut-brain axis variation due to discrimination.
For instance, while some individuals did not develop inflammation, but instead anxiety due to discrimination, Asian individuals illustrated possible somatization and dietary responses to discrimination.
The study of Dong et al (2022) identified changes in the gut-brain axis that may be due to systematic discrimination, showing that racial discrimination is no different than any other long-term stressor negatively impacting human health.
Altogether, the findings suggest that discrimination is not simply deprivation of one’s privileges, but also may have negative impacts on his or her health. To read more about the research, please see the original paper.
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