The Gut-Brain Connection: Digestive Disorders Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

The intricate link between the gut and brain continues to reveal its secrets, and the latest evidence sends up additional red flags for individuals who experience 5 specific digestive conditions. This study delves into the fascinating connection between gut conditions and Alzheimer's disease. While the gut-brain axis has long been suspected, this research adds substantial weight to the theory that your gut health directly influences the state of your brain.

In this blog post, we'll explore the findings of this study and share strategies to promote gut health and reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

Learn more about the functional medicine approach to cognitive health here.

The Gut-Brain Connection Unveiled

To understand the link between Alzheimer's disease and gut disorders, Australian researchers analyzed genetic data and risk factors from more than 400,000 people. They discovered that five specific gut conditions were linked to Alzheimer's disease (1).

The study also found that these gut conditions were associated with a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease at an earlier age. Individuals with gastritis, for example, had double the risk, and a longitudinal study reported more than a sixfold increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in individuals with inflammatory bowel disease (2).

This study also found specific genes that were shared between Alzheimer's and gut disorders, providing further evidence of their strong connection. These findings suggest that targeting gut health may be an effective way to prevent or delay the onset of Alzheimer's disease.

Read: The 5R Protocol for Improving Gut Health

The Gut Disorders Linked to Alzheimer's

The research highlighted five specific gut disorders that are intricately linked to Alzheimer's disease:

  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD): A common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by acid reflux from the stomach to the esophagus.
  • Peptic Ulcer Disease (PUD): Open sores that develop on the inside lining of the stomach or the upper part of the small intestine.
  • Gastritis-Duodenitis: Inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis) and the first part of the small intestine (duodenum).
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): A chronic condition that affects the large intestine and causes symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, and changes in bowel habits.
  • Diverticulosis: The presence of small, bulging pouches (diverticula) in the lining of the digestive tract, primarily the colon.

Shop: Digestive Enzymes

The Shared Genetic Component

What's particularly fascinating is that the study also suggests a shared genetic component between individuals with dementia and these gut disorders. While this doesn't imply that genetics alone determine the development of Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, it underscores the complexity of the gut-brain axis and the interplay between our genes and lifestyle as risk factors for neurodegenerative diseases.

While the precise mechanisms behind this link are yet to be understood, it's clear that maintaining good gut health is among the modifiable risk factors for Alzheimer's.

How Your Gut Impacts Brain Health

Often called the gut-brain connection, the communication between our digestive system and brain is a complex, two-way street. The gut houses millions of neurons that control digestion, produce neurotransmitters, and communicate with the central nervous system via the vagus nerve. This nerve runs from your brainstem to your abdomen and transmits information between your gut and brain.

These neurons also play a crucial role in regulating inflammation, immune response, and the production of hormones like serotonin and dopamine (3). These neurotransmitters not only influence your mood but also play a vital role in cognitive function. 

Related: Neurodegenerative Disease May Actually Begin in the Gut

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Your Microbiome

Within your digestive tract, there’s also an array of bacteria, fungi, and other microbes that make up your microbiome. Every person’s microbiome is highly adapted to them as an individual and helps carry out metabolic and biological processes that keep our body functioning. Factors such as diet, stress, and exposure to other microbes or antibiotics change the gut microbiome throughout life.

Dysbiosis within the microbiome has also been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s (4).

This is why conditions like GERD, PUD, gastritis-duodenitis, IBS, and diverticulosis, which impact the health of your gut microbiome, are of particular interest when it comes to Alzheimer’s disease. Changes in the composition or diversity of the gut microbiome can have a significant impact on brain function and potentially increase the risk of developing all kinds of dementia (5).

Guarding Your Gut (and Brain)

Understanding the link between gut conditions and Alzheimer’s disease empowers us to take proactive steps to maintain our digestive and cognitive health. Here are some strategies to keep your gut (and brain) in good shape as you age:

Diet Matters

Consume a diet rich in fiber, fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. These foods nourish your gut microbiome and support a healthy digestive system.


Specific strains of beneficial bacteria help to promote a healthy gut microbiome. Digestive enzymes can also be helpful in supporting healthy digestion and reducing symptoms of gut disorders.

Manage Stress

Stress and anxiety can trigger IBS symptoms, and managing these emotions can be an important part of reducing IBS flare-ups. Engage in relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga to reduce stress levels.

Eat More Berries & Avocado

Berries are a well-known brain-boosting food, but 2021 data reveals that older adults who ate more avocado performed significantly better across all cognitive testing (including memory function) (6).

Plus, berries and avocados are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients that promote healthy blood sugar levels, which is key to long-term protection from Alzheimer’s.

Regular Exercise

Physical activity not only benefits your body but also your gut and brain. Aim for regular exercise to promote overall well-being.

Gut Function Analysis

If you experience persistent gut issues, consider testing your digestive health to identify underlying conditions and take appropriate measures.

Don’t Ignore Digestive Symptoms

If you’re experiencing symptoms of gut disorders like GERD or IBS, contact us now. Early diagnosis and treatment are key to managing these conditions effectively.

The Bottom Line

There is a clear link between digestive health and Alzheimer’s disease, and the research suggests that maintaining good gut health could be an essential strategy for preventing cognitive decline. Eating a healthy diet, consuming fermented foods, reducing stress, and taking supplements can all support gut health and reduce the risk of developing these conditions. By prioritizing gut health, we can take an important step towards maintaining our cognitive function and living a long, healthy life.


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