Study finds your gut can help guard your brain against Parkinson’s

Could the key to avoiding terrible brain diseases like Parkinson’s all begin in your gut?

That’s what a group of researchers have recently discovered. They found that special cells in the intestines can hunt down and fix damaged neurons in the brain that can lead to this crippling disease.

These are findings that could be a game changer in preventing Parkinson’s, and perhaps even other deadly brain diseases.

All of which makes it more vital than ever that you know four important ways to keep your gut healthy and up to its important job of guarding your brain.

A gut feeling

To hear researchers at the University of Iowa talk about their amazing new findings, it sounds like an episode of CSI!

Only the “crime scene” here is the brain, and the thieves are damaged neurons that can steal your independence and eventually your life.

“We think somehow the gut is protecting neurons” is how lead author Dr. Veena Prahlad summed up the findings.

It was already known that Parkinson’s disease is triggered by the malfunction — and even death — of critical neurons in the brain. If you, a friend or family member suffers from Parkinson’s, you know that dopamine-enhancing drugs are the most effective go-to treatment.

That’s because those damaged neurons’ job is to produce dopamine, the chemical that activates the areas of the brain that control movement.

But what if we could repair these damaged neurons as they started to malfunction? Sort of like performing a brain tune-up?

Well, that’s exactly what Dr. Prahlad’s research has discovered is possible.

Referring to these special immune cells in the gut as “detectives,” she found that they can actually seek out and destroy the defective parts in damaged neurons, allowing them to keep producing dopamine.

We already know that 70 percent of our immune system cells are located in our gut. And by keeping our intestines up to the challenge, we would stand a much better shot of not just keeping Parkinson’s at bay, but a variety of other terrible illnesses and diseases, from arthritis to IBS to cancer.

So it certainly makes more sense than ever to pay close attention to our gut health.

And here are four big ways to do that:

Step 1: Watch your flora. Gut flora, or what some call “good guy bacteria,” are major players in keeping your gut working well. There’s an ongoing battle between good and bad bacteria in your intestines — and a course of antibiotics will wipe out both of them, giving new bad guys the opportunity to flourish because the good guys that usually fight them have been killed off.

That’s why if you’ve recently been on antibiotics, urgent action is needed to replenish your good gut flora. And even if you haven’t, it’s still extremely important to include probiotics in your diet.

Step 2: Feed your flora. That adage “You are what you eat” goes double for beneficial gut bacteria. When you’re eating loads of pizza, fast food and meals from the freezer, it does nothing to help your friendly flora thrive. Be sure to add plenty of fiber, veggies and fresh fruit to your diet.

Step 3: Get moving. You don’t have to join a gym or enter a race. Simply getting out for a walk several times a day can help enhance your gut immunity in numerous ways. One study even found that people who exercise regularly have a greater variety of beneficial bacteria.

Step 4: Get enough sleep. Staying up night after night past the witching hour is bad enough for your overall health but it’s especially not good when it comes to keeping your intestines happy and healthy.

Probiotic foods include not only high quality yogurt, but kefir (a yogurt-type drink), miso soup, tempeh and even sauerkraut.

And probiotic supplements are certainly easy enough to find. Just make sure to get a good brand that offers a wide variety of probiotic strains.

“Parkinson’s disease protection may begin in the gut” University of Iowa, September 26, 2016, ScienceDaily,