As we have explored all year, the gut microbiome is diverse, and a healthy microbiome is essential to our overall immune system and well-being. We have explored the gut-brain axis briefly as it relates to our mental health, and to take it one step further, let’s look at the connection between gut microbiome and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Build up of amyloid plagues (amyloidosis) and bodily inflammation are both key characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease. While research is ongoing, there have been some studies that show links to healthy, helpful bacteria and the reduction of amyloidosis and inflammation in the brain.
Occasional inflammation is normal and is actually a process that our body is designed to undergo, and counteract. Think about a cut or scrape on our arm, the area becomes red and inflamed, because our body is fighting possible infection and also beginning the process of healing. However, when inflammation in our body is chronic (day in and day out) that is a problem, because it continues to make our immune system fight harder, and stay out of balance.
A healthy, diverse gut microbiome is essential to counteracting that inflammation and keep our body in balance. When our gut is out of balance (dysbiosis) evidence shows it can contribute to cardiovascular diseases, autism, anxiety and depression, dementia and GI disorders. Recent studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s have different gut microbiota than those without it, potentially causing the characteristic inflammation and plaque build-up.
More studies are pointing to a pro-active and protective diet including the foods we have discussed all year (leafy greens, good fiber, fermented foods, good fats, etc.), good vitamin D status and good sleep as important to keep our gut and our brain healthy.
We all should try to make these small changes to make a big difference in our gut microbiome.