(NaturalHealth365) New research is finding that gut health could play a primary role in the onset of Parkinson’s disease. Scientists at California Institute of Technology found a link between gut health and the nervous system disorder. The study examined mice with Parkinson’s disease and found that symptoms were alleviated using treatments to improve gut health. Healthy gut microbes seem to cooperate with specific genes to help reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is a progressive nervous system disorder affecting motor functioning. It comes on gradually, often beginning with barely noticeable tremors, stiffness and the slowing of movement. However, as it progresses, tremors get worse and motor skills become increasingly impaired.
Gut health: A potential paradigm shift in Parkinson’s disease treatment
The study was published in the journal Cell and is raising awareness about the benefits of probiotics and prebiotic therapies. Parkinson’s disease is currently the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the U.S. It affects around one million people and 1 percent of persons 60 years old or older.
The findings run counter to the previous belief that Parkinson’s causes are localized in the brain and nervous system. Gut microbes and the benefits of probiotics have already received quite a bit of publicity lately, and these findings are sure to accelerate discussions about the benefits of probiotics.
Treating Parkinson’s disease at the level of the gut represents a true paradigm shift in how the progressive nervous system disorder is seen and treated, say researchers. New possibilities are now available for what was once seen as an irreversible condition.
Not just a brain and nervous system disorder
Parkinson’s disease is caused by an accumulation of abnormally shaped proteins in the brain’s neurons. This in turn causes toxic effects in the cells responsible for releasing dopamine in brain regions associated with movement and motor control. Patients begin to experience tremors, muscle stiffness, and impaired movement that gets worse over time.
Current Parkinson’s treatments have focused on increasing dopamine levels in the brain. However, these treatments tend to lose effectiveness over time and can also cause a range of unpleasant side effects.
Patients afflicted with Parkinson’s disease have been found to have an altered gut microbiome. They can also have resultant gastrointestinal problems that may precede or accompany the more common Parkinson’s symptoms.
Benefits of probiotics now include lowered risk of Parkinson’s disease
Healthy gut microbe levels are already linked with positive neuronal development and healthy cognitive abilities. By contrast, gut health problems have been connected with brain and mood issues including depression, anxiety and autism. This recent research is shining a light on the role of the gut microbiome in avoiding neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s.
While more research must be done to identify the specific metabolites associated with Parkinson’s disease, taking steps to improve gut health is a good idea regardless. The list of benefits of probiotics keeps growing longer, and a lowered risk of Parkinson’s is highly compelling.
Some of the best food sources of probiotics include yogurt and fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, miso soup, kefir, kombucha, tempeh and kimchi. And, finally, eating plenty of organic, raw fruits and vegetables is critical for gut health.
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