A Surprising New Link Between Parkinson’s Disease and Gut Health

Last Update: September 28, 2022

The sauerkraut on your organic hotdog or that morning bowl of Greek yogurt might not just be good for your gut today—it could be protecting your brain from serious disease in the long run.

A recent study suggests that gut health may be more important than we realize in preventing serious illness. The vagus nerve, a neurological pathway from the gut to the brain, seems to play an integral role in those with Parkinson’s disease. When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it inhibits the dopamine pathway to the brain–and interestingly enough, most medications that treat Parkinson’s disease attempt to replace lost dopamine in the brain.

Scientists think that Parkinson’s disease may start in the gut (although the causation is unclear), and the study shows that once the vagus nerve pathway from the brain to an unhealthy gut is severed it decreases patients’ chances of developing Parkinson’s by 50 percent.

What does it mean for us? A healthy gut might be our best ally to prevent pathological disease. Cut the processed foods and amp up your intake of gut-saving goodies like probiotics, prebiotics, fermented foods, and fiber to keep your gut health in check.

Photo credit: Paul Delmont

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Michelle Pellizzon

Certified health coach and endorphin enthusiast, Michelle is an expert in healthy living and eating. When she's not writing you can find her running trails, reading about nutrition, and eating lots of guacamole.

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