Diet’s Effect on Gut Bacteria Could Play Role in Reducing Alzheimer’s Risk

Could following a certain type of diet affect the gut microbiome—the good and bad bacteria that live in the gastrointestinal tract—in ways that decrease the risk of Alzheimer’s disease? According to researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine, that is a fair possibility.

Head shot of Hariom Yadev, PhDIn a small pilot study, the researchers identified several distinct gut microbiome signatures—the chemicals produced by bacteria—in study participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) but not in their counterparts with normal cognition, and found that these bacterial signatures correlated with higher levels of markers of Alzheimer’s disease in the cerebrospinal fluid of the participants with MCI.

Through cross-group dietary intervention, the study also showed that a modified Mediterranean-ketogenic diet produced changes in the gut microbiome and its metabolites that correlated with reduced levels of Alzheimer’s markers in the members of both study groups.

Head shot of Dr. Suzanne Craft“The relationship of the gut microbiome and diet to neurodegenerative diseases has recently received considerable attention, and this study suggests that Alzheimer’s disease is associated with specific changes in gut bacteria and that a type of ketogenic Mediterranean diet can affect the microbiome in ways that could impact the development of dementia,” said Hariom Yadav, PhD, assistant professor of molecular medicine who co-authored the study with Suzanne Craft, PhD, professor gerontology and geriatric medicine and director of Wake Forest Baptist Health’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center.

The study appeared in EBioMedicine, a journal published by The Lancet.

Research Funding
Research reported on was supported by the following grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

Diet’s Effect on Gut Bacteria Could Play Role in Reducing Alzheimer’s Risk: Grant P30 AG049638 and award R01 AG055122 from the National Institute on Aging, Department of Defense grant W81XWH-18-1-0118, National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grant UL1 TR001420 and a grant from the Hartman Family Foundation.