Probiotics, prebiotics, gut health and microbiome are the buzzwords of the day for people who want to stay healthy and active longer. In fact, it’s hard not to see articles about gut healthy choices and their impact on your life… from reducing digestive issues to protecting against chronic illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease.
One of the fastest-growing areas proving that gut health is whole-body health is Alzheimer’s research. Study after study has linked the gut microbiome with either Alzheimer’s risk or protection.
Now, a ground-breaking study has found that if you have the genes that trigger Alzheimer’s, your gut may be responsible for turning them on.
Alzheimer’s like symptoms and changes in the brain
The research published in the journal Scientific Reports used two separate groups of mice — including one group whose genes had been tinkered with to increase the risk of Alzheimer’s mutations.
And sure enough, the researchers at Oregon Health & Science University found a correlation between the composition of the gut microbiome and the behavioral and cognitive performance of the mice carrying the genes associated with Alzheimer’s. The unlucky mice exhibited poor behavioral and cognitive performance
The findings are the first to demonstrate a direct connection between the gut microbiome and cognitive and behavioral changes in an Alzheimer’s disease animal model, and they are consistent with a recently published observational study in people newly diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. In fact, a U.S. clinical trial for the treatment of mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease is currently underway involving a compound that targets microbes in the gut.
“You know the expression, ‘You are what you eat?'” said senior author Jacob Raber, Ph.D., professor of behavioral neuroscience in the OHSU School of Medicine. “This may be part of that. While all mice were fed the same diet, the gut microbiome is affected in a genotype-dependent fashion and this, in turn, might affect your brain.”
What’s the population of your gut microbiome?
While we don’t have the final word yet, adding probiotics to your diet — especially if you’re genetically predisposed to the disease — might be a smart proactive step in the right direction.
“Microbes may elicit an impact on behavioral and cognitive measures relevant to Alzheimer’s disease via epigenetic changes in the hippocampus,” Raber said. “Or, alternatively, it might be that the epigenetic changes in the hippocampus affect changes in the gut microbiome.
“The exciting part of this is that you can manipulate the gut microbiome. We can use probiotics and see what the effect is.”
Great sources of probiotics to add to your diet include:
- Aged or artisanal cheeses (made from raw milk)
As a bonus, considering supplying prebiotics — “food” for the good bacteria — to your strategy. Some tasty prebiotic options are garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and even bananas.
Editor’s note: While you’re doing all the right things to protect your brain as you age, make sure you don’t make the mistake 38 million Americans do every day — by taking a drug that robs them of an essential brain nutrient! Click here to discover the truth about the Cholesterol Super-Brain!