Daily probiotic may slow age-related cognitive decline

Daily probiotic may slow age-related cognitive decline

Gut Bacteria and Cognitive Function: A Promising Breakthrough

Gut Bacteria Research

Research suggests that manipulating gut bacteria could hold promise for addressing cognitive impairment and other chronic conditions. A recent clinical trial has found that treatment with a probiotic could help people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) regain cognitive function. The study showed that participants who took a probiotic for 30 days scored higher on cognitive tests compared to the placebo group. Furthermore, the gut microbiome of those who received probiotics contained less of a type of bacteria associated with cognitive impairment. These findings open up new possibilities for using probiotics as a therapeutic intervention for cognitive decline.

The worldwide surge in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has led to an urgent need for more research in this field. Lead study author, Mashael R. Aljumaah, a microbiology doctoral candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, acknowledges this urgency. The clinical trial involved giving people with cognitive impairment a daily probiotic called Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG for three months. The results showed improved cognitive test scores in the participants who received probiotics.

Analyzing the participants’ stool samples, researchers found substantial levels of Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) and a reduction in the amount of another family of bacteria called Prevotella. Prevotella bacteria is often observed in people with cognitive decline. The shift in the composition of the microbiome suggests a beneficial effect of probiotic treatment.

According to Aljumaah, LGG is a potential therapeutic probiotic based on previous animal studies demonstrating its positive effects on several physiological conditions. LGG is known for its acid tolerance and its ability to adhere in the gut, making it an effective probiotic.

The study’s findings were presented at the NUTRITION 2023 gathering in Boston, MA, and published in the scientific journal Clinical Nutrition in 2022. However, larger studies are needed to confirm these findings and ensure the safety of introducing LGG bacteria to the gut microbiome.

Prevotella bacteria, often found in people with cognitive decline, has also been associated with autoimmune and inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel diseases. It is important to note that Prevotella bacteria also plays a role in maintaining gut health and processing fiber from plant-based foods. Further research is needed to determine the specific contributions of Prevotella bacteria to these chronic conditions.

Despite the promising results, it is still unclear how the gut and brain are connected and how the gut microbiome affects cognitive health. The microbiome is a complex area of study, and scientists are only scratching the surface in understanding its role in human health. Researchers hypothesize that various pathways, such as the vagus nerve and the immune system, could be involved. Metabolites, including short-chain fatty acids and neurotransmitters produced in the gut microbiome, may also play a role in influencing brain function.

The microbiome’s potential to affect brain health extends beyond cognitive function. Dr. Santosh Kesari, a board-certified neurologist, suggests that the microbiome’s impact on total body health, including brain function, stems from its role in nutrition and metabolization. Altering the microbiome could potentially improve overall health outcomes, but it requires further investigation and understanding.

In conclusion, the recent clinical trial showing the benefits of probiotics in improving cognitive function is an exciting breakthrough. However, more extensive studies are necessary to confirm these findings and ensure the safety of using probiotics for cognitive enhancement. The gut-brain connection remains a fascinating area of research, with the potential to revolutionize our understanding and treatment of various chronic conditions. As we delve deeper into the complex world of the microbiome, we may discover novel interventions to promote brain health and reduce healthcare burdens caused by cognitive decline.