Nose picking and Alzheimer’s disease: Is there a connection?

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In an illuminating study from Griffith University, researchers have uncovered a pathway by which bacteria can travel from the nose to the brain, potentially leading to the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

This discovery, led by Professor James St John and published in Scientific Reports, highlights a critical route that bypasses the blood-brain barrier, a natural defense mechanism of the brain.

The olfactory nerve, which extends from the nasal cavity to the brain, is directly exposed to the air we breathe, making it an accessible route for pathogens.

The study demonstrated that Chlamydia pneumoniae, a type of bacteria, can exploit this pathway to invade the central nervous system in mice. Once in the brain, the cells respond by depositing amyloid beta protein, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease.

This finding emphasizes the importance of maintaining the integrity of the nasal lining. Practices such as picking the nose or plucking nasal hairs can damage the nasal lining, increasing the risk of bacteria traveling to the brain.

The researchers caution against these habits, suggesting that avoiding them could lower the risk of bacterial invasion and subsequent brain damage.

Moreover, the study points to the potential of smell tests as early detectors of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Loss of the sense of smell is an early indicator of these conditions.

The researchers propose that regular smell tests starting at age 60 could serve as a beneficial early detection method.

The team is planning further research to confirm if the same pathway exists in humans, which could pave the way for new preventive measures and treatments for Alzheimer’s disease.

In the meantime, there are simple steps people can take to protect their nasal lining and potentially reduce their risk of late-onset Alzheimer’s.

In addition to avoiding harmful habits, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also support brain health. Diet, for instance, plays a significant role. Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, can protect brain health.

Additionally, addressing deficiencies in essential nutrients like Vitamin D and incorporating antioxidants into one’s diet may also help reduce the risk of dementia.

For those concerned about brain health, these findings underline the importance of both nasal and overall health.

As research continues to uncover the complexities of Alzheimer’s disease, simple preventive measures and lifestyle adjustments remain crucial in mitigating risk and promoting long-term cognitive health.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies that bad lifestyle habits can cause Alzheimer’s disease, and strawberries can be good defence against Alzheimer’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that oral cannabis extract may help reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms, and Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease.

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