Aug 13 2017

New clues to the causes of Dementia

Published by at 1:59 pm under Dementia

New clues to the causes of Dementia
Several new studies identify factors that increase our risk of getting dementia as we age, now include gut health.*

In 2015, approximately 47 million people were thought to be living with dementia, with approximately $818 billion being spent worldwide on their care. By the year 2050, this number is expected to triple, with the greatest populations in low to middle income countries such as India, Brazil, China and Indonesia.1*

“…Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases…”2*

So what is the root cause of dementia? There is new research that provides clues to this debilitating condition that affects us as we get older. Researchers are suggesting that there are certain precursors to dementia, and by addressing them early in life, we might open the door to new ways and opportunities for preventing and treating this tragic disease.3*

“…Because our gut bacteria have a major impact on how we feel through the interaction between the immune system, the intestinal mucosa and our diet, the composition of the gut microbiota is of great interest to research on diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Exactly how our gut microbiota composition is composed depends on which bacteria we receive at birth, our genes and our diet…”according to a recent study out of Lund University in Sweden, which examines this avenue and is focusing its research on gut health and how it may accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.3*

In this study, researchers looked at both healthy and diseased mice and found that mice suffering from Alzheimer’s disease had a different composition of gut bacteria when compared to their healthy counterparts. Additionally, they looked at mice that lacked bacteria to observe and test the relationship between intestinal bacteria and the disease. Those without bacteria had  “…significantly smaller amounts of beta-amyloid plaque in the brain. Beta-amyloid plaques are the lumps that form at the nerve fibers in cases of Alzheimer’s disease…” To substantiate their findings, they then transferred intestinal bacteria from diseased mice to germ-free mice, and discovered that indeed the mice developed more beta-amyloid plaques in the brain compared to if they had received bacteria from healthy mice.3*

 “…”Our study is unique as it shows a direct causal link between gut bacteria and Alzheimer’s disease. It was striking that the mice which completely lacked bacteria developed much less plaque in the brain,” says researcher Frida FÃ¥k HÃ¥llenius, at the Food for Health Science Centre…”3*

The research is a result of an international collaboration between Associate Professor Frida FÃ¥k HÃ¥llenius and doctoral student Nittaya Marungruang, both at the Food for Health Science Centre in Lund, and a research group at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland. This collaboration has now expanded to include researchers from both Germany and Belgium. 3*

Researchers find this breakthrough promising, as they can now begin researching ways for prevention and delaying the onset, rather than solely focusing on symptom-relieving antiretroviral drugs. They will continue to study the role of bacteria in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, and test “…entirely new types of preventive and therapeutic strategies based on the modulation of the gut microbiota through diet and new types of probiotics…”3*

Other studies have also surfaced of late, suggesting additional contributors to dementia. One of these, out of the University of California, San Francisco and the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division out of Oakland, has found that those living in certain states called the “stroke belt” which are the states that have higher mortality rates as a result of a stroke, are more likely to develop dementia than others. These states include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, and one state not in the south, Alaska. They found that at age 65, “…the risk of developing dementia in the next 20 years was 30 percent for people born in these states, compared to 21 percent for those born elsewhere…” Previous research had linked “vascular risk factors” such as obesity, diabetes, smoking, high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure, to a greater risk of both dementia and stroke.4*

The primary factors tie back to diet and lifestyle, which goes back to the first study mentioned which examined gut health. There are similar risk factors between stroke and dementia, and early prevention is key, especially if you reside or come from one of these high risk states, researchers say. Diet, exercise, low salt diets are all important habits to adopt.

Another study, from the Lancet Commission on Dementia Prevention, Intervention and Care, focuses on hearing loss as a contributor to dementia, along with obesity. “…More than 1 in 3 cases of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can be traced to factors such as inadequate education, obesity, hearing loss and smoking that simply don’t need to be…” The commission found that “the failure to complete more than eight years of school is childhood’s most potent risk factor…” for dementia and in midlife, “…one of the most powerful – and fixable drivers of dementia risk is hearing loss. In fact, as much as 9 percent of lifetime risk for dementia lies with hearing loss during midlife…”4*

Diet, exercise and good GUT HEALTH are all vital factors in our efforts to stay healthy, minimize obesity, maintain good cardiovascular health, minimize risk of stroke. According to these studies, it is also the important factor in lowering our risk of developing dementia. As we know, everything ties back to the microbiome, and keeping it healthy. Body Bioticsâ„¢ Bio-Identical SBO Probiotics Consortiaâ„¢ is an important ingredient in maintaining and improving gut health.

Healthiest wishes,




  1. Austin American Statesman, Dementia Report, Report Illuminates dementia’s causes. July 21, 2017
  4. Santa Barbara News Press, August 7, 2017

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