✍️ Author: Dr Eleni Christoforidou
🕒 Approximate reading time: 4 minutes
The human microbiome, a complex community of microorganisms that reside primarily in our gut, has become the focus of cutting-edge research. Increasingly, evidence suggests that our microbiome might play a crucial role in influencing the health of the brain and the progression of neurodegenerative diseases.
Bidirectional Communication: The gut and brain communicate through the gut-brain axis, a system encompassing the central nervous system, enteric nervous system, and the gut microbiota.
Neurotransmitter Production: The gut microbiota synthesises neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which play pivotal roles in mood regulation and cognitive functions.
Altered Composition: Disruption in the balance of beneficial and harmful bacteria can influence neuroinflammation, potentially exacerbating neurodegenerative conditions.
Increased Permeability: Dysbiosis can compromise the gut barrier, leading to increased permeability and allowing harmful substances to reach the bloodstream and potentially the brain.
Alzheimer's Disease: Studies have observed alterations in the gut microbiota composition in Alzheimer's patients. Moreover, microbial metabolites might influence amyloid plaque formation, a hallmark of the disease.
Parkinson's Disease: A compromised gut barrier might facilitate the spread of harmful alpha-synuclein aggregates from the gut to the brain.
Multiple Sclerosis: Gut microbiota might modulate the immune system's response, influencing the progression of autoimmune disorders like multiple sclerosis.
Probiotics and Prebiotics: By promoting beneficial bacteria, these can restore microbial balance, potentially offering neuroprotective effects.
Fecal Microbiota Transplants: Transferring gut bacteria from healthy donors to patients could help re-establish a beneficial microbial environment.
Dietary Interventions: Diets rich in fibre and fermented foods can foster a healthy microbiome, potentially offering protection against neurodegenerative conditions.
The microbiome's intricate relationship with the brain presents a novel frontier in our understanding of neurodegenerative diseases. By nurturing our gut health, we might just find new ways to bolster our brain health and combat the march of neurodegeneration.