26 July 2023

Chronic constipation found to be associated with cognitive decline in adults

The risk of cognitive decline was found to be significantly higher in adults with chronic constipation. Perhaps additional research into this problem will provide new tools to treat or reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia. 

Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston have found that chronic constipation in adults may lead to cognitive decline. The results of the study, presented during the annual meeting of the Alzheimer's Association AAIC 2023, were published by Medscape.

The analysis showed that in adults with chronic constipation, cognitive decline corresponds to an additional three years of aging. Compared to participants who emptied their bowels daily, people with chronic constipation had a 73% greater subjective sense of cognitive decline. In addition, a correlation was found between the frequency of bowel emptying, the subjective feeling of cognitive decline and changes in the microbiota.

They analyzed data from more than 112,000 adults who participated in the Nurses' Health Study, Nurses' Health Study II, and Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All participants completed questionnaires indicating the frequency of bowel emptying and then self-assessed cognitive function. In addition, some patients underwent standardized neuropsychological testing to objectively assess cognitive abilities. The frequency of bowel emptying once every three days or less frequently was considered chronic constipation.
The authors noted that the relationship between the digestive system and cognitive function is not fully understood. Perhaps additional research into this issue will provide new tools to treat or reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease and other types of dementia.

To prevent chronic constipation, scientists recommend drinking more water daily, eating a healthy diet high in fiber and foods rich in polyphenols such as fruits, vegetables and whole grain products, taking dietary fiber supplements and exercising.
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