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The Liver and Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a disease suffered by more than 6 million Americans, and over 50

million worldwide. The disease slowly kills off cells in the brain, resulting in memory loss and

the loss of ability to do everyday tasks. It may come as a surprise, though, that Alzheimer’s is

actually inked with conditions in the liver. Recent studies have shown that many conditions that relate to the liver are also associated with cognitive decline.

A study published in 2022 by Nature Communications consisting of over 30,000 people

looked into the relationship between other parts of the body and the brain. states, explaining what the research entailed, “They looked at the

structure and function of the heart, the size of the brain, abnormalities in the brain’s white

matter, and factors related to the liver, such as fat build-up and inflammation. The analysis

showed that there were direct and indirect connections between these organs, highlighting the impact of dysfunction across multiple organs.” This demonstrates the general idea that other parts of the body, including the heart and the liver, are able to affect the brain, which sets up the foundation for how defects in the liver can affect the onset of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.

Studies presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, or AIIC, in

2018 showed that the environment, diet, and metabolism led to a change in the wellness of the brain; states this about a group of studies:

“The gut microbiome, diet, and lipid metabolism were identified as key factors. Changes in

gut bacteria composition and dietary choices can influence brain health, particularly in

Alzheimer’s disease. Modifying gut bacteria through dietary interventions has shown

promising results in improving memory and reducing inflammation in animal models.

Disruptions in lipid metabolism, specifically lower levels of plasmalogens in the liver, may

contribute to cognitive impairment and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease.”

In this study, presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference

(AAIC) in 2018, it is demonstrated how seemingly unrelated factors can influence the

development of Alzheimer’s disease. Although indirectly, changes in the liver can lead to

devastating changes that can cause Alzheimer’s.

Inflammation is a main cause of this, which is supported by a study by Zhejiang

University researchers; medicalnewstoday states, “This research found Western diet poses a

risk factor for developing Alzheimer’s disease. A Western diet pattern led to brain

inflammation and is associated with the accumulation of harmful proteins in the brain.

Metabolic disorders, such as high cholesterol and fatty liver disease, accompanied these brain

changes.” In this study, it is shown that dietary choices can have a major impact on the brain

as eating higher cholesterol foods make metabolic disorders more likely to cause Alzheimer’s.

This is further supported by the fact that most cases of Alzheimer’s are found in Western

Europe and North America, both of which are known for having food that has noticeably

higher cholesterol than in Asia or Africa.

Alzheimer’s disease is devastating, but every bit of information we gain is information

that can be used to battle it. Understanding how malfunctions in the liver can result in

Alzheimer’s can help lead us to ways to avoid the disease much more easily. These insights

underscore the critical role of lifestyle factors, such as diet and metabolic health. Further, this

research demonstrates that the body is more holistic than it may have previously been thought to be. Thus, dysfunction in one system can have far-reaching implications in the rest of the body. This knowledge can also lead different findings that may even be completely unrelated to what is found in these studies, but equal important.

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