Gut Inflammation Could Lead to This Nerve-Degenerative Disease, Says New Study

Keeping the ecosystem in your belly happy might have an impact on your risk for developing a particular neurological disease that 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with each year.

Maybe you’ve been hearing how powerful a healthy gut can be when it comes to staving off conditions like cancer and heart disease. There’s also plenty of buzz about how a lack of balance among your gut bacteria can even increase the risk of anxiety and depression.

Further recent research has suggested that gut wellness may lower the likelihood of dementia. In fact, one 2020 geriatric gastroenterology study found that low butyrate levels in the gut—caused largely by malnutrition and medication for many participants in the study—was linked with a higher incidence of dementia.

Now, a new study is further highlighting the link between the gut, brain, and nervous system. As the researchers explain, keeping the ecosystem in your belly happy might have an impact on your risk for developing a particular neurological disease that 500,000 Americans are diagnosed with each year, according to 2022 data from the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Learn more about the power of butyrate in the belly—read Eating This Nut Will Help Your Gut and Reduce Inflammation, New Study Says

Gut inflammation and Parkinson’s disease

A September 2022 peer-reviewed neurosurgical study has pointed to a connection between gut inflammation and the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease—a disorder that attacks the body’s nervous system.

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The researchers suggested this connection is due to the dynamic within the gut-brain axis (GBA), a communication system between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. The gut-brain axis links intestinal functions to the emotional and cognitive centers of the brain, with those healthy bacteria in the belly playing a significant role for these interactions between the digestive and nervous systems.

To make the connection between gut inflammation and Parkinson’s disease, the researchers compared healthy mice with mice that had Parkinson’s disease to evaluate inflammatory markers in the gut. After evaluating the animals’ waste, they found that the mice with Parkinson’s disease experienced changed patterns within in their gut microbiomes than the control group did.

The study researchers noted that this finding could eventually lead to the use of cell-based regenerative medicine to regulate gut health, reduce inflammation, and even ease symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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How to take care of your gut

Information like this might inspire you to focus on gut health with a few healthy practices:

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Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a journalist and content strategist with a main focus on nutrition, health, and wellness coverage. She holds an MA in Journalism from DePaul University and a Nutrition Science certificate from Stanford Medicine. Her work has been featured in publications including Taste of Home, Reader's Digest, Bustle, Buzzfeed, INSIDER, MSN, Eat This, Not That!, and more.