Chronic Constipation and Cognitive Decline (Early Dementia)–What Is The Connection?

By Tucson Functional Medicine on August 7, 2023 0 Comments

I have always had a strong foundational belief that when your gut is well your overall health is well.

New studies are beginning to see a distinct correlation between poor gut health especially chronic constipation and early dementia.

Chronic constipation may not only be an indicator of gut health, but a potential warning sign of cognitive decline.

Researchers found that among more than 110,000 middle-aged and older U.S. adults, those who were chronically constipated and had fewer than three bowel movements a week showed early signs of poor brain health.

The findings presented at a meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association in Amsterdam showed that people with chronic constipation typically performed worse on tests of memory and thinking,

In addition, 73% of these same people stated that were more likely to say their cognitive skills were waning.

Although the study is strictly preliminary and did not prove that constipation caused the aging brain to deteriorate faster, the researchers of this study do believe there is evidence connecting gut health to brain health.

The researchers theorize that constipation and cognition are linked via the gut microbiome.

The science is exploding with research linking abnormal gut microbiomes and various diseases, including degenerative brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. 

Claire Sexton, senior director of scientific programs and outreach for the Alzheimer’s Association stated that it is unclear at this point whether constipation itself or the underlying cause of constipation, that being disruptions in the gut microbiome, is driving this association.

Dr. Dong Wang of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and the senior researcher on the study stressed the importance of clinicians discussing gut health, especially constipation, with their older patients.

Of special interest, the research found that people with constipation and worse cognition tended to have relatively few gut bacteria that produced butyrate — an important fatty acid that helps control inflammation. 

I strongly would encourage any people suffering from chronic constipation to having a functional medicine or integrative practitioner do deep dive into their gut health via a comprehensive stool test.

I say why wait for science to catch up with what may indeed be a potential connection between compromised gut health and poor cognition?

I recommend finding a healthcare practitioner who can order one of the following excellent stool tests:

GI-MAP — https://www.diagnosticsolutionslab.com

Gut Zoomerhttps://www.vibrant-wellness.com/test/GutZoomer

GI 360https://www.doctorsdata.com/GI360-stool

With the results obtained from any of the above stool tests, you will have a deep window into your gut health and understand what steps you can take to address any potential issues found on the test.

The question remains: Can improved gut health have a positive impact on improved cognitive health?

To be quite honest, I tend to lean toward the affirmative and would not risk having a disease as serious as dementia take hold of any patient without at least testing the waters and seeing if one’s cognitive health improves with improved gut health.

You can find a qualified and certified functional medicine practitioner by going to: www.FunctionalMedicineDoctors.com










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