The GI tract, or gut, plays a powerful role in brain health and disease, like Parkinson’s. It holds a large community of bacteria (the microbiome) and a large network of nerves, second in number to the brain. And it’s in regular conversation with the brain. Meaning what happens in your gut — because of the food you eat, the medications you take and other “environmental” factors — has an impact on your brain.
These connections explain how Parkinson’s can cause gut symptoms, such as constipation, bloating and more. And they point to the possibility that Parkinson’s might, in some people, even start in the gut.
To learn more, watch my discussion with gastroenterologist Wael El-Nachef, MD, PhD.
Ask the MD has been made possible through the leadership of members of our Parkinson's Disease Education Consortium in conjunction with The Albert B. Glickman Parkinson's Disease Education Program. These partners' support allows us to furnish high-quality educational content to the Parkinson's community while maintaining our commitment to allocate donor dollars to high-impact research. Editorial control of all Michael J. Fox Foundation-published content rests solely with the Foundation.