Alzheimer’s disease is linked to gut health

Credit: Sora Shimazaki / Pexels.

Researchers at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, have identified a possible link between Alzheimer’s disease and specific gut bacteria.

In a new study, the researchers describe how they discovered six species of gut bacteria that are correlated with the disease, with one species linked to the most significant risk.

The study was conducted using polygenic risk scores, which assess the risk of developing a disease based on known genetic correlations.

The researchers found that 20 out of 119 species of gut bacteria were strongly associated with an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis.

Of these 20 significant species, six were identified as likely risk factors, while 14 were potentially protective.

The risk genera included Alistipes, Bacteroides, Lachnospira, Veillonella, Collinsella, and Sutterella, while the protective species were primarily from the Firmicutes phylum, with one from Actinobacteria and one from Bacteroidetes.

The most significant risk-associated species was Bacteroides, while the most significant protective genus was Intestinibacter.

The researchers challenged their findings by conducting a second analysis using a database from a multi-site Canadian collaboration study of Alzheimer’s patients called GenADA.

They found strong links between the microbiota and Alzheimer’s disease.

When they looked closer, they found that the polygenic risk scores of the four microbiota species had strong associations with a specific version of the APOE genotype rs429358-C.

The researchers discovered that Collinsella, from the phylum Actinobacteria, was a risk factor for Alzheimer’s in both the discovery and replication samples and had the most significant associations with the APOE genotype at rs429358-C.

This finding is particularly strong because APOE4 is one of the strongest risk factors linked to the development of late-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

The researchers suggest that future research is needed to explore the relationship between Collinsella, lipid metabolism, and inflammatory signals to understand how their interaction influences Alzheimer’s and other diseases.

This study adds to a growing body of research indicating that disruptions in regular ratios and lower diversity of gut bacteria are associated with neurodegenerative diseases via neuroinflammatory processes across the microbiota-gut-brain axis.

How to prevent Alzheimer’s disease

There is no guaranteed way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing it. Here are some recommendations:

Exercise regularly: Exercise has been shown to help protect the brain from cognitive decline. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity per week.

Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Keep your mind active: Engage in mentally stimulating activities, such as reading, doing puzzles, or learning a new skill.

Get enough sleep: Getting enough sleep is important for brain health. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night.

Manage your stress: Chronic stress can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Find ways to manage your stress, such as meditation, yoga, or talking to a therapist.

Stay socially active: Social isolation and loneliness have been linked to cognitive decline. Stay connected with friends and family, join a club or organization, or volunteer in your community.

Control your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar: High blood pressure, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Take steps to manage these conditions through a healthy lifestyle and medication if needed.

Remember, while these steps may reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, there is no surefire way to prevent it. Genetics, age, and other factors may still play a role.

f you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies about personality traits linked to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s, and how to treat mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about alternative drug strategies against Alzheimer’s, and coconut oil may help improve cognitive function in Alzheimer’s.

The study was conducted by Davis Cammann et al and published in Scientific Reports.

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