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A World-First Study Has Confirmed The Link Between Alzheimer’s And Gut Health

A World-First Study Has Confirmed The Link Between Alzheimer’s And Gut Health

Alzheimer's disease (AD) affects the brain, slowly destroying memory and cognitive skills. It is the most prevalent form of dementia with more than 6 million Americans over the age of 65 affected by this debilitating brain disorder. However, a world-first study has found a connection between Alzheimer’s disease and gastrointestinal tract (GIT) disorders that could offer hope for treatment. Here is a closer look at the connection and what it could mean in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. (1,2)

Alzheimer’s And Gut Health Study

The study was conducted at Edith Cowan University (ECU) headed by Dr. Emmanuel Adewuyi. The study’s findings could mean earlier detection and increased potential to find effective AD treatments. Dr. Adewuyi and their team conducted an analysis of large sets of genetic data from AD and gut-disorder studies involving approximately 400,000 people. Their findings showed people with AD and GIT shared common genes. (1)

“It was the first comprehensive assessment of the genetic relationship between AD and multiple gut disorders,” says Dr. Adewuyi. “The study provides a novel insight into the genetics behind the observed co-occurrence of AD and gut disorders. This improves our understanding of the causes of these conditions and identifies new targets to investigate to detect the disease earlier and develop new treatments for both types of conditions.” (1)

The Gut-Brain Axis, Alzheimer’s, And Gut Health

According to Professor Simon Laws of the Centre for Precision Health, the study does not have a final conclusion that confirms gut disorders cause AD or vice versa. However, as the director at the center and study supervisor he says, “the results are precious.” (1)

“These findings provide further evidence to support the concept of the ‘gut-brain’ axis, a two-way link between the brain‘s cognitive and emotional centers, and the functioning of the intestines,” he explains. (1)

What Is The Gut-Brain Axis?

The gut-brain axis (GBA) is the communication between the central and enteric nervous system. It links the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain with our gut’s intestinal functions. Studies have also identified our gut microbiota as an influence in bidirectional interactions. (3)

The GBA sends signals back and forth from the gut microbiota to the brain and then from the brain to the gut-microbiota using links connected to our neural, endocrine, immune, and even humoral functions. A good example of GBA is irritable bowel syndrome which demonstrates how emotions and stress can cause disruptions to our digestive function. (3)

What Is Gut Microbiota?

Our gastrointestinal tract is home to a vast population of microorganisms known as the gut microbiota. It plays an important role in our body’s ability to fight disease. We establish our gut microbiota as infants. As we age, the diet has a major influence on how our gut microbiota maintains its balance throughout our lives. (4)

Because our microbiota contains both good and bad bacteria, we need to maintain a good balance between the two for a healthy gut. The right balance supports a healthy immune system and supports metabolic homeostasis to protect against pathogens that make us ill. (4)

When our gut bacteria are unhealthy, it creates dysbiosis which is tied to infections as well as inflammatory diseases. (4)

How To Improve Gut Microbiota Balance

You can improve your gut microbiota and avoid dysbiosis by adding more healthy bacteria to your gut. Probiotics contain healthy live bacteria. They are commonly found in fermented foods like yogurt but can also be taken as a supplement. (5)

Clinical studies show that probiotic therapy can promote healthy gut function, keeping pathogens at bay. It can also improve immune function, help us absorb nutrients, and also aid in digestion. (5)

Probiotics offer many health benefits including treatment or prevention of:

  • Diarrhea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn's disease
  • H. Pylori
  • Vaginal infections
  • Urinary tract infections

They can also help prevent eczema in children.

Further Alzheimer’s and Gut Health Study Findings

Back to the study, researchers also discovered other interesting ties, including the potential role cholesterol might play. According to Dr. Adewuyi, abnormal cholesterol levels presented a higher risk for AD and gut disorders. (1)

“Looking at the genetic and biological characteristics common to AD and these gut disorders suggests a strong role for lipids metabolism, the immune system, and cholesterol-lowering medications,” he explains. “While further study is needed into the shared mechanisms between the conditions, there is evidence high cholesterol can transfer into the central nervous system, resulting in abnormal cholesterol metabolism in the brain.” (1)

Gut Bacteria, Alzheimer’s, and Gut Health Study

“There is also evidence suggesting abnormal blood lipids may be caused or made worse by gut bacteria (H.pylori), all of which support the potential roles of abnormal lipids in AD and gut disorders,” says Dr. Adewuyi. “For example, elevated cholesterol in the brain has been linked to brain degeneration and subsequent cognitive impairment.”

Abnormal blood lipids or “Dyslipidemia” can also contribute to fatty deposits in the blood vessels. These deposits increase the risk for cardiovascular diseases including coronary heart disease and stroke. (6)

“Evidence indicates statins have properties which help reduce inflammation, modulate immunity, and protect the gut,” Dr. Adewuyi. “However, there was a need for more studies, and patients needed to be assessed individually to judge whether they would benefit from statin use.”

What Are Statins?

Statins are cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor and Crestor. They block the substance your body uses to produce cholesterol. They can reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke, and blood clots. (7)

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

Symptoms of AD include:(1)

  • Memory problems
  • Decline in thinking
  • Inability to find the right words
  • Vision/spatial issues
  • Impaired reasoning or judgment
  • Mild cognitive impairment (MCI)
  • Difficulty doing common tasks such as driving, cooking, paying bills, etc.
  • Losing items
  • Repeating the same questions
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Placing items in odd places
  • Difficulty understanding basic things

Later stages of AD can lead to anger, violence, and worry. (1)

This world-first study opens possibilities for early detection and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. With the tie established, it makes sense to explore the benefits of probiotic therapy and adding foods and probiotic supplements to help improve the balance of our gut microbiota. (2)

To help with your gut health, click here to try our Probiotic today.