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The Link Between the Gut and the Brain

Updated: Aug 8, 2023


Hands holding a brain shaped paper.

The chance of developing age-related cognitive illnesses like Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, and other types of dementia can be affected by modifiable lifestyle changes like diet and exercise, despite genetics undoubtedly playing a part. Researchers have recently looked into how the gut microbiome plays a role in the relationship between lifestyle and the risk of these illnesses. In fact, a study indicates that dementia sufferers' gut bacteria strains are much more pro-inflammatory than once thought.


The gut can influence brain activity

The gut and brain are connected in crucial ways despite their relative separation in the body. You may be aware of the effect of the encephalon (a fancy word for “brain”) on the stomach, such as when your stomach grumbles when you see a dish that looks appetizing. According to long-standing research, the synthesis of stomach acid and the enzyme gastrin can be considerably increased just by talking about tasty food.

The gut-brain axis describes the two-way communication between the central and enteric neural systems, connecting the emotional and cognitive regions with intestine processes.


Inflammation in the gut and its effects on the brain

Ongoing research has analyzed the gut microbiome of a person diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and how different bacterias can in the long term affect the brain. This analysis showed that people with Alzheimer's disease have little diversity of microbes and instead of having anti-inflammatory bacteria, pro-inflammatory bacteria were flourishing in their gut which can promote systemic inflammation throughout the entire body. Systemic inflammation has been associated with elevated amyloid protein levels in the brain. When this occurs, the amyloid proteins end up bundling together forming plaques and further collecting between neurons which could disrupt the cell's function.


Tips on how to boost gut health and lower the risk of dementia

Although dementia does have inherited risk factors that cannot be eliminated, prevention measures can be implemented to help slow the onset of this cognitive disease. Like many metabolic disorders, a Mediterranean diet and greater physical exercise appear to lower the incidence of dementia in older adults. Follow these tips to help boost your gut health:

1. Introduce fermented foods into your diet: sauerkraut, kefir or kombucha. Fermented foods help feed the bacteria in your gut.

2. Consume a fiber-rich diet with a variety of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit.

3. Brush at least two times a day. The harmful bacteria in your mouth can cause disruption in your gut.

4. Exercise regularly to promote the growth of good bacteria.

5. Get sufficient rest.

6. Cut back on alcohol consumption. It can promote the growth of harmful gut bacteria.

7. Manage stress levels.

8. Finally, take a probiotic supplement to help introduce beneficial and anti-inflammatory bacteria to your gut.


The gut and the brain's relationship can cause mental health and digestive issues too! Although you cannot alter your DNA, you may change your course of action. The risk of dementia can be reduced by encouraging a healthy gut ecosystem through a varied, fiber-rich diet, obtaining enough sleep, and other healthy lifestyle practices.

 

We hope this article helped you understand the relationship between your gut and brain and how they can influence one another. If you wish to read more tips, browse through our other articles! In addition, if you wish to cook something nutritious, discover our healthy recipes!


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