Breaking News
More () »

Wine, bad teeth, and gut bacteria may increase the chances of Alzheimer's

A new study by scientists shows what could increase your chances of Alzheimer's.

NEW ORLEANS — Science is revealing more and more about what could set you up for getting Alzheimer's disease, such as the connection between drinking wine, not visiting your dentist, and gut health.

It looks like there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make today to protect your brain function tomorrow.

First, remember growing up when your parents told you alcohol kills brain cells? They may have been on the right track.

 A study out of England finds that just one small glass of wine a day puts you at higher risk for Alzheimer's or Parkinson's diseases.

“Alcohol is causing a suppression of a hormone that regulates the iron, and therefore the iron regulation in the brain is not occurring in the way it needs to. It's allowing more accumulation of iron,” said Dr. Benjamin Springgate, the Chief of Community and Population Medicine at LSU Health Sciences Center.

And no doubt mom and dad told you to brush and floss your teeth daily. They were right.

Another study suggests that bacteria, which are the most common cause of gum disease, are associated with Alzheimer's and dementia.

“And when they studied and looked for antibodies to different bacteria that are common in gum disease, they discovered that those antibodies were very commonly found in people with Alzheimer's or dementia,” Springgate said.

In another first-of-its-kind study, researchers reveal a genetic link between Alzheimer's and several gut-related disorders. People with Alzheimer's and gut disorders have genes in common.

“One hypothesis is that it might be related to cholesterol or lipid metabolism,” Dr. Springgate said.

The question for future research is if taking statins to control cholesterol could potentially manage or prevent Alzheimer's.

Studies say that when you take care of your overall health with exercise, a healthful diet, weight control, and not smoking, your brain reaps the benefits.

And doctors expect an increase in the number of people with Alzheimer's in the future.

“No question about it. This is the most common cause of dementia,” he said.

Another study found if you practice writing with your non-dominant hand, just five minutes a day, that could help keep the brain nimble and lower your risk for Alzheimer's and dementia.

And there's no time to start changing like the present.

Before You Leave, Check This Out