इंडियन आवाज़     12 Jul 2024 09:58:22      انڈین آواز

Chronic Constipation: A Novel Risk Factor for Impaired Cognition?

By Dr Veena Aggarwal

People with chronic constipation have a 73% higher risk of cognitive impairment, according to data of more than 100,000 adults presented at AAIC 2023, the Alzheimers Association International Conference held in Amsterdam, Netherlands.1,2

This study included 112,753 participants from the Nurses’ Health Study, Nurses’ Health Study II and Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The frequency of bowel movements of the enrolled subjects was assessed from 2012 to 2013. Data on cognitive function, which was self-assessed by the participants between 2014 and 2017 was collected. Objective tests for cognitive function were conducted in 12,696 participants between 2014 and 2018.

Having less frequent bowel movements was associated with poor cognitive function. Persons with constipation (those who had a bowel movement every 3 days or more), performed significantly worse on cognition tests compared to those who had regular bowel movements once daily, which was comparable to three additional years of chronological cognitive aging. Bowel movement frequency of every three days or less was associated with 73% higher risk of subjective cognitive decline

Those who had two or more bowel movements daily were also at a higher risk of cognitive impairment, although in this case, the risk was smaller.

The study also observed an association of bowel movement frequency and subjective cognitive function with the gut microbiome in 515 subjects. Those with constipation and impaired cognition had higher prevalence of gut dysbiosis.

This study has for the first time demonstrated an association of frequency of bowel movement with cognition. The association was particularly robust among those who had occasional bowel movements. These observations, however, do not establish a causal interrelationship between the two. Regardless, they emphasize on the need to improve gut health by eating a fiber-rich diet containing  whole grains, fruits and vegetables, staying well hydrated and engaging in regular physical activity.

References

  1. Alzheimer’s Association Press release. Available at: https://aaic.alz.org/releases_2023/constipation-gut-health-alzheimers-dementia-risk.asp. July 19, 2023. Accessed on July 22, 2023.
  2. Chronic constipation linked to cognitive decline – Medscape – Jul 19, 2023. Available at https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/994551. Accessed on July 22, 2023.

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