Constipation increases the chance of cognitive downfall.

Constipation increases the chance of cognitive downfall.

Researchers looked into the relationship between constipation and deteriorating cognitive function in several recent studies.

In addition to various alterations in the gut flora, they discovered that having one bowel movement every three days or less frequently is associated with increased rates of cognitive deterioration.

More research is required to determine how these results might influence cognitive decline prevention and treatment approaches.

Constipation affects approximately 16% of the world’s population. Low levels of physical activity, being a woman, living in an area with high rates of constipation, and certain medical diseases, such as depression, hemorrhoids, and several cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, and musculoskeletal problems are all risk factors for constipation.

When a person has fewer than one bowel movement every three days or more, they are said to be chronically constipated. It has been connected to several illnesses, including sadness and anxiety.

According to studies, constipation is a frequent consequence of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s disease and is associated with a faster course of Alzheimer’s disease.

The development of treatments and preventative measures for cognitive decline and related disorders may be aided by knowing more about how constipation impacts the neurological system, and consequently, the brain and cognition.

The relationship between constipation and cognitive deterioration has recently been studied by experts. They discovered that a 73% higher likelihood of subjective cognitive deterioration was associated with having bowel movements every three days or less frequently.

Cognition and gut bacteria

Increases and decreases in specific gut flora have been associated with dementia and cognitive decline, according to several studies in this area.

According to Dr. Thomas Gut, an assistant professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell who was not involved in this study, “This research is a first step to investigating whether certain types of bacterial presence within our intestines protects our brains from certain types of cognitive diseases.”

Dr. Thomas Gut stated that although “this research does not even begin to address the question of whether promoting certain types of bacterial colonization could be protective of memory and brain function,” it does raise the issue and open up a new line of inquiry.”

Constipation linked to three additional years of age

The researchers analyzed information from 112,753 men and women for the study. the frequency of their bowel movements between 2012 and 2013, as well as self-reports of their cognitive function between 2014 and 2017.

Under the watchful eye of experts, a portion of 12,696 subjects also undertook neuropsychological testing. The participants also gave stool samples so that the amounts of various germs could be determined.

In the end, the researchers discovered that persons who had a bowel movement every three or more days had much lower cognition than those who had one each day, which is comparable to an additional three years of aging.

Additionally, they produced 73% less butyrate, a sign of good bacteria that aid in the digestion of dietary fibers, and had a lower overall risk of subjective cognitive decline.

The study’s findings also revealed that those who had more than two bowel movements each day had a somewhat higher risk of cognitive decline and tended to have more pro-inflammatory species in their microbiomes.

The study’s findings suggest that having fewer bowel movements is associated with poorer cognitive function and that this association may be explained by changes in the gut flora.

Certain gut bacteria linked to cognitive decline

Two more recent studies looked more closely at particular gut bacteria associated with an increased risk of dementia as well as those that may be neuroprotective.

In the initial investigation, data from 140 cognitively sound subjects with an average age of 56 years were analyzed. Data included measurements of the Alzheimer’s protein biomarkers amyloid and tau from PET brain scans as well as fecal samples.

They discovered that lower levels of the gut bacteria Butyricicoccus and Ruminococcus and higher levels of Cytophaga and Alistipes were associated with higher levels of amyloid and tau. They mentioned the possibility of neuroprotective benefits from Butyricicoccus and Ruminococcus.

According to a news statement from the researchers, the absence of some bacteria may increase gut permeability and the transport of some metabolites to the brain, which may in turn lead to an increase in amyloid-beta and tau protein formation.

They recommended testing if introducing, boosting, or decreasing particular gut microorganisms could advantageously alter levels of amyloid and tau. If so, this would be useful in locating potential novel Alzheimer’s treatment strategies.

In the second study, experts looked at fecal samples and the results of cognitive tests from 1,014 participants, with a mean age of 52. They divided the cohort into groups based on the results of their cognitive tests and contrasted those scoring in the bottom 20% with those scoring in the top 20%.

To learn more about the potential neuroprotective benefits of these bacteria, the researchers stressed that more study is required. They did, however, add that in the future, it might be able to control their abundance through food and prebiotics to maintain cognitive performance and brain health.

Uncertainty regarding causality

The National Institutes of Health’s Dr. J. Wes Ulm, a bioinformatic scientific resource analyzer and biological data specialist who was not involved in the study, was consulted by experts regarding its drawbacks.

The studies, he claimed, do not prove causation because of their early nature even though they reveal a link between constipation and cognitive deterioration.

It’s also unclear whether certain dietary habits, such consuming fibre or using probiotics or prebiotics, are related to the reported results, the author said.

Additionally, only a relatively small sample of the related patient population underwent objective testing using several methods to more reliably corroborate such a finding, making the majority of the findings of cognitive impairment in the patient group subjective.

Can overcoming constipation promote mental health?

Dr. Ulm highlighted that although the exact causes and processes of chronic constipation are still unknown, other research have demonstrated a connection between inflammation and neuropsychiatric disorders and factors that contribute to chronic constipation, such as inadequate fibre consumption, inadequate hydration intake, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Despite the fact that dietary guidelines regularly change in response to new scientific findings, he continued, strengthening general health practises may lower the risk of cognitive decline in the long run. Increased consumption of fruits, vegetables, fibre, and water, as well as more frequent exercise, are examples of such practises.

Dr. Ulm came to the conclusion that it would be interesting to observe the results of this research, from straightforward methods to ease constipation to focused adjustments to the gut microbiota, and how they can aid in preventing dementia and other forms of cognitive decline.


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