New study confirms genetic link between gut health and Alzheimer’s disease

Study shows relationship between gut health and Alzheimer’s disease and genetic overlap in several other gastrointestinal tract disorders

Over time, we continue to learn more about the ability of the gut microbiome to help or hinder our health and well-being. Research has implicated the gut for its role in conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease, bowel disease, various forms of cancer, the gut-brain axis and other communications gut-body. What is often still unclear is the exact link between gut health and Alzheimer’s disease or other illnesses.

A new study provides greater clarity in this area, reporting that there is a connection or overlap in the genes of people with gastrointestinal disorders and those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Genetic link between the intestine and Alzheimer’s disease

This study was published in the Communications Biology journal on July 18, 2022, and involved a comprehensive review of over 450,000 samples collected through many different methods (databases, repositories, and major research groups). Because they used such a large sample size, the researchers were able to detect genetic variants associated with the lesser effect.

Through cross-meta-analysis, several loci were identified as existing both in people with Alzheimer’s disease and in people with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or peptic ulcer disease (PUD). ). Among the loci were PDE4B, BRINP3, ATG16L1, SEMA3F, HLA-DRA, SCARA3, MTSS2, PHB and TOMM40. The results were strengthened by gene-based analyzes and co-localization, the latter being when a locus has genetic factors shared between two or more traits.

This study also noted a genetic overlap in several other disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and Alzheimer’s disease, namely gastritis-duodenitis, irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis. No overlap was found between Alzheimer’s disease and inflammatory bowel disease.

While these findings cannot provide a causal pathway, they do provide greater insight into the relationship between the gut and brain health. This is an incredibly complex area of ​​research, in part because the gut microbiome is influenced by so many different factors that can also affect Alzheimer’s disease.

Factors Affecting Gut Health

In addition to genetics, a 2020 review article published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology shares that the gut microbiome is “very sensitive” to external factors such as diet, lack of sleep, exposure to constant noise, and physical inactivity. These are all also risk factors in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Because so many factors are at play in each, it can be difficult to identify which may be causes, which may be effects, and which are just coincidences. By learning more about the genetic links that exist, it may become easier to make these determinations as research in this area progresses.

Until we know more, there’s no downside to taking steps to improve gut health. And there are several ways to achieve this goal.

How to improve the intestine

One strategy is to eat a diet high in flavonoids. Research has shown that flavonoids help prevent inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, both directly and indirectly. These bioactive ingredients can be found in fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, legumes, and tea.

Another way to improve gut health is to take prebiotics, probiotics, and polyphenols. Studies report that these three functional food components help modulate gut health, which also benefits overall well-being:

  • Prebiotics are generally high in fiber and promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
  • Probiotics are live cultures that help boost or improve the “good” bacteria in the gut.
  • Polyphenols are plant food compounds such as flavonoids and phenolic acid that further promote gut health.

Getting enough sleep is also important for a healthy gut. In an article by Opinions on sleep medicine, authors from the University of Alberta in Edmonton report that sleep fragmentation and short sleep duration can negatively impact the composition of gut bacteria. The same goes for persistent jet lag, eating a diet that contributes to obesity, and other factors that can disrupt the circadian rhythm.

Interestingly, this research also suggests that taking probiotics can help improve sleep quality. Thus, making changes to improve gut health in one way may provide benefits in others, such as the relationship between gut health and Alzheimer’s disease – and may provide benefits to patients who support a healthy gut microbiome. healthier and overall health.

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