Gut microbes are connected to brain diseases; probiotic foods, high fibre, low sugar diet key in keeping your stomach healthy
Many studies in the past have suggested that the microorganisms in the gut can affect the brain.
Have you ever felt cramps in your stomach right before you enter an exam hall or meet an interviewer? Well, this is one of the simplest signs that indicate a connection between your brain and your gut. But what you might not know is that some diseases or microbes related to your gut could result in neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Can gut microbes result in brain diseases?
Many studies in the past have suggested that the microorganisms in the gut can affect the brain. A study published in the Journal of Parkinson’s Disease stated that Parkinson’s disease (a chronic illness affecting the nerve cells in the brain) can also begin from your gut and can affect the entire brain function. The scientists found Lewy bodies in the gut and the nose which are abnormal protein bodies that form inside nerve cells and are responsible for Parkinson’s disease. These Lewy bodies were seen to affect the peripheral nervous system (the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord) first and then the brain.
Inflammatory bowel disease can lead to dementia
A new study, published in the journal Gut on 23 June 2020, stated that people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) may have an increased risk of developing dementia in later stages of life. IBD is the chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. The study included data of around three million people from the Taiwan National Health Insurance programme, out of which 3,744 patients above the age of 45 years were reported to have IBD and 17,420 people were included in the control group.
After 3 to 5 years, scientists found that out of all those subjects 1,742 people with IBD developed dementia. With this study, the scientists concluded that people with IBD have significantly higher lifetime dementia risk than those included in the control group.
How to keep your gut healthy?
You can keep your gut healthy by following ways:
1. Probiotics and prebiotics: Include probiotic foods such as curd, cheese and kimchi and prebiotic foods such as asparagus, bananas, garlic, onions and whole grains in your diet as they promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
2. Reduce stress: Psychological stress can disturb the colony of good microorganisms in the intestines. Keep stress at bay by practising deep breathing exercises, meditation and listening to soothing music.
3. Exercise daily: Studies reveal that exercising 15 minutes a day or 90 minutes a week can help in improving the gut microbes and also add on three years to your life.
4. Maintain your oral health: Various inflammation-causing bacteria can travel from down from your mouth to your gut. Maintain oral hygiene by brushing your teeth and cleaning your tongue regularly.
5. Cut down sugar: Studies reveal that sugar and artificial sweeteners can result in dysbiosis, which is the medical term for an imbalance in the gut microbiomes.
6. Sleep well: According to various animal studies, irregular sleeping patterns can damage gut microflora, thus leading to inflammatory diseases. Sleep for at least 7 to 8 hours a day.
7. High fibre diet: Food rich in fibre such as legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas and asparagus help in improving gut health.
8. Quit smoking: Chronic smoking can damage the good microbes present in the gut and also gives rise to the harmful microorganisms which can lead to intestinal conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and Crohn's disease.
9. Add polyphenols in your diet: Foods like dark chocolate and black tea contain polyphenols which are plant-based molecules known to enhance the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
For more information, read our article on Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
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