For the first time, probiotics have been shown to improve cognition and fight dementia.
Probiotics are live bacteria that can be taken as dietary supplements.
The study showed that just 12 weeks of daily doses of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria had a beneficial effect.
Elderly people with Alzheimer’s showed improvements in cognition.
Probiotics have already been linked to:
Professor Mahmoud Salami, a study author, said:
“In a previous study, we showed that probiotic treatment improves the impaired spatial learning and memory in diabetic rats, but this is the first time that probiotic supplementation has been shown to benefit cognition in cognitively impaired humans.”
Probiotic dietary supplement
The study compared two groups of Alzheimer’s patients, who were between 60 and 95 years-old.
Half received milk that was fortified with four probiotic bacteria:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus,
- L. casei,
- L. fermentum,
- and Bifidobacterium bifidum.
The others received just the milk.
Along with improvements in cognition, the researchers also saw improvements in physiological measures, such as triglyceride levels.
Professor Salami said:
“These findings indicate that change in the metabolic adjustments might be a mechanism by which probiotics affect Alzheimer’s and possibly other neurological disorders.
We plan to look at these mechanisms in greater detail in our next study.”
Professor Walter Lukiw, who reviewed the study, said:
“This early study is interesting and important because it provides evidence for gastrointestinal (GI) tract microbiome components playing a role in neurological function, and indicates that probiotics can in principle improve human cognition.
This is in line with some of our recent studies which indicate that the GI tract microbiome in Alzheimer’s is significantly altered in composition when compared to age-matched controls, and that both the GI tract and blood-brain barriersbecome significantly more leaky with aging, thus allowing GI tract microbial exudates (e.g. amyloids, lipopolysaccharides, endotoxins and small non-coding RNAs) to access Central Nervous System compartments.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience (Akbari et al., 2016).