Gutbliss - Dr. Robynne Chutkan


Regular laxative use is a risk factor for dementia

Regular laxative use may be a risk factor for dementia, according to a research study published in the journal Neurology.

The study involved over half a million people and compared regular laxative users to those who used laxatives infrequently or not at all. Regular laxative users were 51 percent more likely to develop dementia than non-regular users, and the type and number of laxatives used mattered: osmotic laxatives which work by pulling water into the colon, were much more strongly associated with dementia, and regular use of two or more laxatives had a 90 percent higher risk.

The theory behind how laxative use is associated with dementia is that these drugs change the composition of the gut microbiome, and the communication pathways between the microbes. These changes ultimately affect the brain since many of the neurotransmitters that the brain relies on are made in the gut. While the research showed a strong association between laxative use and dementia, it didn’t clearly show causation, but it did add to the growing scientific evidence that changing the gut microbiome can have dire consequences elsewhere in the body. The study also highlights the importance of treating constipation through safe and effective diet and lifestyle modifications like fiber, water, and exercise – which all also have a direct beneficial effect on your brain health!

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