New Alzheimer’s Research: Could Gut Bacteria Play a Role?
Alzheimer’s disease is arguably the biggest issue facing the senior population today. More than 5 million people in the United States alone live with Alzheimer’s and millions more devote care and resources every day to helping to take care of them. The disease can feel like it takes over whole lives and personalities and leaves many feeling like their loved ones are lost even as they sit in front of them.
It’s hard to overstate how big of a deal Alzheimer’s disease is, but it only stands to become a bigger issue in the years to come as the senior population grows and the incidence of the disease grows with it.
One thing that could help slow that tide and put the effects of Alzheimer’s more into the hands of patients and their loved ones is the advent of new Alzheimer’s research that helps us understand how the disease works and what we can do about it. Doctors and researchers are hard at work trying to understand the disease better and hopefully discover ways to treat and prevent it.
Little by little, researchers are making progress and following theories that could help us find the meaningful answers that will help millions. One new development relates to a part of the body not many people associate with the disease: the gut.
What Gut Bacteria Has to Do With Alzheimer’s
Scientists in Sweden performed research with mice to test a theory that gut bacteria might have an influence on the effects that Alzheimer’s has on the brain. They looked at the gut composition of mice with Alzheimer’s and mice with healthy brains to see how they compared and found a higher incidence of gut bacteria in the mice that had Alzheimer’s.
They then took the research a step further to study the brains of mice that had Alzheimer’s, but had comparatively little or no gut bacteria and found that they had a smaller amount of the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that commonly show up in mice (and people) that have Alzheimer’s.
That’s all a very scientific way to say that a healthier gut appears to lead to both a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s and a less severe form of the disease when it does occur.
What That Means for Seniors with Alzheimer’s
At this point, the research is far from definitive. Mice aren’t people and, while sometimes research that plays out with mice first enda up producing similar trends and reactions in people as well, that’s not always the case. The main thing this research means right now is that it’s worth more doctors and researchers following this theory to do further research and see if they can hit on something more substantive to help Alzheimer’s patients and their families.
If further research does pan out, then it could point to very good news for Alzheimer’s patients. It means slowing down the effects of Alzheimer’s could be as simple as taking a daily probiotic. And probiotics are already widely available for people who choose to take them for a range of issues and health concerns.
There’s no promise at this point that it will make a difference, but if you want to give probiotics a try in the hope that future research confirms the early findings of this study, talk to your doctor about whether or not they foresee any negative side effects or risks. Just remember that any supplement you choose to add to your diet should be run by your doctor first.