How Your Gut May Impact Your Alzheimer’s Risk
Did you know your gut bacteria affects your body’s metabolism? Research is showing that the bacteria in a healthy person’s gut is different to that in, for example, someone who is obese.
A healthy gut contributes to a strong immune system, heart health, brain health, improved mood, healthy sleep, and effective digestion.
It is a fact that your body is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and other microbes such as viruses and fungi. The microorganisms, bacteria, fungi, and viruses that are living in or on your body make up your microbiome.
About Your Gut and Your Microbiome
Never feel lonely again! You’re in the company of about a thousand different species of bacteria, fungi, and viruses – on your skin and inside your digestive system. We all know about good and bad bacteria in the gut, but would it surprise you to learn that your colon contains roughly 10 trillion?
As a group, they are called your microbiota. Their genes form your microbiome, which contains more than a hundred times as many genes as your own DNA. Not something to be ignored.
Research is showing us that the microbiome in our GI tract affects many health, or ill-health, conditions. Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic syndrome, IBS, allergies, obesity, colorectal cancer, and yes, even Alzheimer’s disease.
So How Does Your Gut Affect Alzheimer’s?
A ‘leaky gut’ can result from changes in your microbiota where various microorganisms – and the metabolites that are a result of their metabolism – can enter your circulation. This has far-reaching effects on your body’s chemistry.
The Connection Between Gut Bacteria and Alzheimer’s Disease
Microorganisms in the gut can produce protein compounds called amyloids which, upon entering your blood circulation, can cross the blood-brain barrier and gain entry to your brain.
One of the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease is the accumulation of amyloid plaques between nerve cells in the brain.
In addition, one of the components of bacterial cell membranes, lipopolysaccharides, activate inflammatory processes upon entering the body’s bloodstream.
The action of these substances is exacerbated by a diet which is low in antioxidants and/or high in pro-inflammatory fatty acids.
How Can We Use the Knowledge About the Microbiome to Reduce the Risk of Alzheimer’s?
One of the most important messages to learn is to feed our microbiota friends properly. The diet that has been shown to reduce Alzheimer’s disease risk and is beneficial to our microbiota is the Mediterranean Diet.
What to Do to Change Your Diet
The Mediterranean Diet is a plant-based diet rich in fruit and vegetables and high in fibre. It encourages the growth of health-promoting bacteria.
Unhealthy bacteria are inhibited by consuming polyphenols found in green and black tea.
Prebiotics are a type of fibre indigestible by humans which acts as a fertiliser for the gut microbiota. You can find a list of the top 19 best prebiotic foods at the Health Line website.
Current research suggests that the MIND diet, which includes aspects of a Mediterranean diet, could lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The research is also published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
A healthy diet, along with other lifestyle factors, can slash your risk of dementia by a third, and although the research is still in its infancy, progress is being made.
What do you know about your microbiome? Does anyone you know suffer from Alzheimer’s? Has your doctor mentioned a specific diet that could help reduce the risk? Do you know anything about diet and the mind? Share your stories about the effect of diet on your mind.
Editor’s note: Nothing in this article should be considered medical advice. Always consult a doctor before making any changes to your diet, medical plan, or exercise routine.