Gut to Brain Dysbiosis: Mechanisms Linking Western Diet Consumption, the Microbiome, and Cognitive Impairment.
Front Behav Neurosci. 2017 ;11:9. Epub 2017 Jan 30. PMID: 28194099
Emily E Noble
Consumption of a Western Diet (WD) that is high in saturated fat and added sugars negatively impacts cognitive function, particularly mnemonic processes that rely on the integrity of the hippocampus. Emerging evidence suggests that the gut microbiome influences cognitive function via the gut-brain axis, and that WD factors significantly alter the proportions of commensal bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Here we review mechanisms through which consuming a WD negatively impacts neurocognitive function, with a particular focus on recent evidence linking the gut microbiome with dietary- and metabolic-associated hippocampal impairment. We highlight evidence linking gut bacteria to altered intestinal permeability and blood brain barrier integrity, thus making the brain more vulnerable to the influx of deleterious substances from the circulation. WD consumption also increases production of endotoxin by commensal bacteria, which may promote neuroinflammation and cognitive dysfunction. Recent findings also show that diet-induced alterations in gut microbiota impair peripheral insulin sensitivity, which is associated with hippocampal neuronal derrangements and associated mnemonic deficits. In some cases treatment with specific probiotics or prebiotics can prevent or reverse some of the deleterious impact of WD consumption on neuropsychological outcomes, indicating that targeting the microbiome may be a successful strategy for combating dietary- and metabolic-associated cognitive impairment.