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.
medicalnewstoday.com 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; medicalnewstoday.com 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.