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Research shows that probiotics found in yoghurt could help alleviate symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Author: Nathan | Posted: 14th November 2016 | Category: General News


New research suggests that probiotics found in yoghurt and supplements could help improve memory and cognition in people with Alzheimer’s disease.

A small clinical trial of 52 participants revealed that people with Alzheimer’s who took probiotic supplements for 12 weeks scored better on cognitive testing than those who did not take the supplements.

Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience and Ophthalmology and Bollinger Professor of Alzheimer’s disease at Louisiana State University, Walter Lukiw said: “This early study is interesting and important because it indicates that probiotics can in principle improve human cognition.”

Aged between 60 and 95 years, all patients still had a severe cognitive impairment at the end of the study. However, the average test score for people in the treatment group increased by more than six percent, while the average score for the non-treatment group actually decreased.

Although the cognitive improvement shown is only small, it is still significant and the study proves that probiotics can help to  improve human cognition.

“This is in line with some of our recent studies which indicate that the gastrointestinal tract microbiome in Alzheimer’s is significantly altered in composition when compared to age-matched controls.” added Professor Lukiw.

Probiotics have been used previously and shown to improve learning, memory and reduce anxiety and depression in mice, but there has been no evidence of cognitive benefits of probiotics in humans until now.

Senior author, Professor Mahmoud Salami, on the study from Kashan University in Tehran, Iran, 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.

“These findings indicate that change in the metabolic adjustments might be a mechanism by which probiotics affect Alzheimer’s and possibly other neurological disorders.

During the trial, participants were divided into two groups, one receiving milk and the other receiving milk with added bacteria commonly found in probiotic drinks. For example,  Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Bifidobacterium bifidum and Lactobacillus fermentum.

Head of research at Alzheimer’s Research UK, Dr Rosa Sancho,  said: “The brain is often viewed as being separate from the rest of the body but scientists are understanding more about how changes in the body can impact upon the brain too.

This new study raises interesting questions about the link between the gut and the brain, and their association with Alzheimer’s disease. The improvements in memory and thinking seen in people with Alzheimer’s disease in this study will need to be repeated in much larger studies before we can understand the real benefits of probiotics for the brain.

We don’t fully understand how changes in the gut could be affecting the brain, and Alzheimer’s Research UK is funding research in this area to improve our understanding of this link.”

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