Through diet and exercise, it appears to be possible to alter gut flora to improve cognitive function, which could be a promising option for the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
A new study involving experts from Ningbo University in China examined how diet and physical activity affect intestinal flora and what impact this has on Alzheimer’s disease. The results can be read in the English-language journal “Food Science and Human Wellness”.
How can intestinal flora influence the development of Alzheimer’s disease?
The intestinal flora influences the brain via the so-called gut-brain axis and it is assumed that signaling pathways associated with Alzheimer’s are also affected. In addition, diet and physical activity also have an influence on the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease, the team reports.
It was therefore reasonable to assume that changes in the intestinal flora through diet and physical activity could help prevent or at least slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease. In the new study, the researchers checked this.
Benefits for the brain
The experts found that both a healthy diet and physical activity have numerous benefits for promoting brain health.
Diet and physical activity are closely linked and influence each other, explains the team. For example, physical activity can influence feelings of hunger and food preferences. Conversely, nutrition has a direct influence on physical performance and physical activity.
Changes in intestinal flora can be detected
According to the new study results, physical activity also contributes to an increase in the number of intestinal bacteria that produce the short-chain fatty acid butyrate. According to experts, both butyrate-producing bacteria and butyrate are said to have a positive effect on cognitive function.
It has also been proven that diet has a significant influence on the intestinal flora, which consists of a large number of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other microorganisms.
A healthy diet combined with physical activity influences the intestinal flora in such a way that the synthesis of bile acids is promoted and the total content of bile acids in the blood is reduced, the team reports.
Significant differences can be seen in the serum concentration of bile acid between cognitively healthy people and people with Alzheimer’s, and these differences are associated with markers for Alzheimer’s in the CSF, the team reports.
In general, the combination of a healthy diet and sufficient exercise is more effective than the effect of exercise or diet alone. However, the benefits of physical activity can also be reduced by an unhealthy diet, the researchers explain.
Improved cognitive functions
According to the study results, it seems quite possible to change the composition of the intestinal flora through proper nutrition and physical activity in such a way that various benefits for cognitive functions arise.
Modulating the gut microbiota through diet and exercise could therefore represent a promising option for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. However, further research on this topic is necessary as the scientific evidence can be viewed as controversial, the experts add. (as)