Dr Michael Mosley: ‘Improving your gut health’ could reduce your risk of dementia

Dr Zoe says walking can reduce risk of dementia

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Dementia already targets more than 850,000 people in the UK. And this statistic is set to rise even further in the next three years. From exercise to cutting down on alcohol, there are plenty of lifestyle changes that can help lower your risk of this syndrome. However, the link between your gut and your brain provides a compelling reason for switching up your diet.

There are different types of dementia, with the most prevalent diagnoses being Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia.

While certain risk factors like age are impossible to change, others, such as your diet, are completely in your hands.

In a Daily Mail article, Dr Michael Mosley explains the relationship between your gut and brain and how you can reduce your dementia risk.

He penned: “A couple of studies, discussed earlier this month at Alzheimer’s Research UK’s conference, provide fresh evidence of a link between the gut and the brain.”

The first study brought by researchers from King’s College London looked at blood and poo samples of 136 participants.

Half of these subjects were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s while the other half didn’t have dementia.

Dr Mosley said: “The researchers found that people with Alzheimer’s had a different mix of gut bacteria and signs of greater inflammation.

“This doesn’t prove it’s the microbes in the gut causing brain problems — it could be that people with Alzheimer’s eat a very different diet, or that having Alzheimer’s alters your gut microbiome, rather than the other way round.

“But it provides more evidence that those microbes could be playing a significant part in how the disease progresses.”

Another study, this time from University College Cork in Ireland, found even “more direct” evidence.

During this trial, the researchers transplanted stool samples from people with and without Alzheimer’s into rats.

After, the rats with Alzheimer’s samples performed worse in memory tests, grew fever nerve cells in areas of the brain linked to memory and had more inflammation in the organ.

How can I improve my gut health to reduce my dementia risk?

Dr Mosley explained: “The quickest and easiest way to change the balance of the microbes in your gut is to change your diet.

“And we already have abundant evidence that a Mediterranean-style diet, rich in olive oil, nuts, oily fish, fruit, vegetables and legumes, is not only good for your microbiome but also for your brain.”

When it comes to cutting dementia risk, the doctor’s claim was put into a test in a German study.

Looking at people with a higher risk of developing the brain condition, the research found that following a Mediterranean-style diet proved effective.

Those who followed it closely had healthier-looking brains and performed better on memory tests.

“They also had lower levels of amyloid and tau proteins in the cerebrospinal fluid; these are thought to play an important role in the development of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia,” Dr Mosley added.

What are the symptoms of dementia?

According to the NHS, the signs might include problems with:

  • Memory loss
  • Thinking speed
  • Mental sharpness and quickness
  • Language (using words incorrectly, or trouble speaking)
  • Understanding
  • Judgement
  • Mood
  • Movement
  • Difficulties doing daily activities.

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