The ‘gut-brain’ connection: Microbiomes for an aging brain

ORLANDO, Fla. – Have you ever heard someone say — ”I have a gut feeling about that?” Well, it turns out your gut may know more than your brain when it comes to some things. In fact, some researchers believe by controlling the good bacteria in your gut, you can stave off cognitive decline. Ivanhoe has the details on how a simple drink could save our memories.

“I feel like I’m about 42 and a half,” Michael Brown told Ivanhoe.

Add 23 and a half years to that and you have Brown’s real age. Brown is increasing his exercise routine and focusing on his diet, which some researchers say is key to taking care of not only your body but also your brain.

Hariom Yadav, Ph.D., an associate professor of neurosurgery and brain repair at USF Institute for Microbiomes explained, “There is a natural abundance of the good and the bad bacteria there living together.”

Creating a microbial community in your gut that lives and works together, but Yadav details, “The bad guys grow much faster than the good guys. The microbiome is very different in the people who have a high risk of developing dementia.”

Studies have shown the gut microbiome may affect executive brain function, including its influence on cognition, depression, and anxiety. Ninety-five percent of serotonin and 50 percent of dopamine are produced in the gut. Those are the feel-good neurotransmitters that help to regulate our moods. Researchers are working to find a way to read each individual’s own microbiome signature and create personalized probiotic drinks and foods to help restore the balance.

Yadav stated, “Our hope is by offering or correcting the microbiome abnormalities early enough -- it will delay or prevent the cognitive decline or dementia progress.”

Brown said “I’m trying to control the aging process, right. I don’t want to get old.”

Researchers at USF are launching a research study for people who are concerned about their brain health, cognitive impairment, and dementia, and the link to their gut health. They will track alterations in the gut microbiomes to see if certain biomarkers can accurately predict which individuals are most likely to develop cognitive impairment or dementia.

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