Updated: Dec 11, 2020
University of Geneva. (2020). Link Between Alzheimer's Disease and Gut Microbiota Is Confirmed.
Article Review By: Kristy Snyder Colling, Ph.D. and Dr. Robert Coben, Ph.D.
In a previous blog post, we explored the importance of gut bacteria and the role it plays in food cravings. Here, we return to the influence gut bacteria can have on your immune and brain health.
Studies are starting to show associations between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s Disease. Indeed, the gut bacteria of Alzheimer’s patients is frequently altered such that there is less diversity in their microbiota than for healthy controls. The more diverse microbiota of healthy individuals tends to have strains that produce beneficial metabolites that have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, the gut bacteria of individuals with dementia looks much different.
A recent study investigated 89 people, some healthy individuals and others who had Alzheimer’s or other neurodegenerative diseases. The investigators used PET scans to quantify the amount of amyloid plaques in the subjects’ brains. They also drew the subjects’ blood to assess levels of inflammatory markers and proteins that are produced by gut bacteria. They found that the gut bacteria of Alzheimer’s patients tend to be dominated by strains that have pro-inflammatory properties. They also found associations between increased amounts of amyloid plaques in the demented patients’ brains and the levels of proteins produced by so-called “bad” gut bacteria. The inverse was also true - that fewer amyloid plaques were found in people who had more of the proteins that are associated with so-called “good” gut bacteria.
The researchers suggested that the next step is to produce a bacterial cocktail or pre-biotic blend that is conducive to the “good” bacteria. However, we need not wait for this cocktail to be developed. Our diets play a huge role in the kind of bacteria that reside in our guts, making the environment more or less conducive to specific strains. The typical Western diet that is full of processed foods with high sugar and saturated fat content is usually associated with less diverse microbiota. Whereas, nutrition that more closely resembles a Mediterranean diet is associated with more diverse microbiota that has more of the so-called “good” bacteria. Eating lean proteins and low carbohydrate vegetables is a good way to change the populations of bacteria that are more conducive to better brain health. If you would like to learn more about taking control of your nutrition for better brain health, please contact us at 479-225-3223. One of our health coaches would be happy to talk with you!