Alzheimer’s may be more more preventable than previously thought. A new study indicates that healthy bacteria in the digestive tract may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, from Lund University in Sweden, finds that unhealthy intestinal bacteria accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Published in the journal Scientific Reports, the study demonstrates that mice with Alzheimer’s have different gut bacteria than those who do not have the disease.
When a group of bacteria-free mice were exposed to bacteria from rodents with Alzheimer’s, their brains showed the beta-amyloid plaques characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease. Bacteria-free mice who were colonized with bacteria from healthy rodents developed significantly fewer brain plaques.
Many of the body’s immune cells are found in the digestive tract. Scientists hypothesize that bacteria may affect T-cells in the gut that control inflammation, both locally and systemically. And inflammation is a factor in Alzheimer’s disease.
In a 2014 paper published in the journal Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, researchers listed ten different ways that microbes in the gut may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, including by fungal and bacterial infections in the intestinal tract and by increasing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier.
The composition of bacteria in a person’s digestive tract is determined partly by genetics, but can be affected by lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress, and exposure to toxins. A person can increase “friendly” gut bacteria by eating a healthy diet including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, along with probiotics. This strategy may help to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
For more information on Alzheimer’s disease and how to plan for care, refer to the Guide To Long Term Care.
Note: You must insure before being diagnosed, this is true for many diseases like Parkinson’s, dementia/Alzheimer’s and many others.