According to a new study, probiotics may improve cognitive function in humans. This is the first time research has shown supplementation of probiotics, friendly bacteria, may aid individuals with Alzheimer’s.
52 women and men between the ages of 60 and 95 with Alzheimer’s Disease participated in this randomized, double blind, controlled clinical trial. The study lasted twelve weeks. Half the patients were given milk enhanced with four strains of friendly bacteria (Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, L. fermentum and Bifidobacterium Bifidum) the other half of the participants received only milk. Blood samples for biochemical analysis were taken at the beginning and at the end of the study period. Additionally cognitive function tests with MMSE (Mini-Mental State Examination, a standard measure of cognitive impairment) questions were also given; this includes tasks like repeating a phrase, copying a picture, counting backwards from 100 by sevens and giving the current date.
Significant increases (from 8.7 to 10.6 out of a maximum of 30) on the average score on the MMSE questionnaire were seen over the 12 week study period in the group receiving the probiotics. The control group did not see the same results (from 8.5 to 8.0 out of a maximum of 30). The participants remained severely cognitively impaired even after the study ended, however the researchers believe the results seen in this study are important because they are the first to show probiotics can improve human cognition. Prior studies showed probiotics could improve memory as well as impaired spatial learning in diabetic rats.
Probiotics are known for their benefits of provinding protection against irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disease, periodontal disease, eczema, allergies, tooth decay and infectious diarrheas. Scientists have believed for a long time that probiotics might improve cognition due to the continuous communication between the brain through the nervous system, immune system and hormones and between the intestinal microflora and the gastrointestinal tract (“microbiota-gut-brain axis”).
Further research is needed to determine if the benefits of probiotics grow stronger over a longer period of time.
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