Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is largely responsible for the smooth and coordinated movements of the muscles in your body. When a person has Parkinson's disease, it is due to an accumulation of abnormally-shaped proteins in the brain's neurons. These proteins have a toxic effect on the cells that release dopamine. Once dopamine levels have dropped 60 to 80 percent, patients begin experiencing the symptoms of Parkinson's, such as impaired movement, which only worsens over time. Currently, people with Parkinson's are given treatments that focus on replenishing the brain's depleted dopamine levels. However, these treatments often come with a host of unwanted side effects and additionally, these treatments become less effective over time.
Furthermore, those with Parkinson's were observed to have an altered gut microbiome. This altered microbiome would often result in gastrointestinal problems that manifested before or alongside the common symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease was previously believed to be localized in the brain and nervous system, but the disorder might have a connection to one's gastrointestinal health. Parkinson's was initially considered an irreversible condition, but new information could change the way we look at and treat the neurodegenerative disease. It could even be beneficial as an early warning system for people who were at high risk of Parkinson's. (Related: Imbalanced gut microbes found to precede Parkinson's disease diagnosis... is the GUT changing neuromuscular control?)
One study in the journal Cell looked into the relationship between gut health and Parkinson's disease. The scientists observed mice that were afflicted with Parkinson's disease. They discovered that when the mice were given treatments to improve their gut health, the symptoms of Parkinson's were alleviated as well. When healthy gut microbes cooperated with certain genes, it also helped to lower the risk of Parkinson's disease.
The study also raised awareness regarding the beneficial use of probiotic and prebiotic therapies. Probiotics are live bacteria that can aid in digestion and help in maintaining good gut health. Probiotics also provide other additional health benefits such as the prevention or treatment of diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and various infections.
Excellent food sources of probiotics include yogurt and fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, miso soup, kefir, kombucha, tempeh and kimchi. Your gut microbes will also greatly benefit from the regular consumption of organic fruits and vegetables.
If you want to learn more about how to stay healthy, you can read more articles by going to Health.news.