Prof. Mahmoud Salami, from Kashan University in Iran, and colleagues recently conducted a study to determine the effects of probiotics on the cognitive functioning of patients who were diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease.
The study divided a small group of 52 men and women with Alzheimer's - one group was required to drink 200 milliliters of normal milk every day for 12 weeks, while the other group drank 200 milliliters of milk containing four probiotic bacteria: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus fermentum, and Bifidobacterium bifidum.
Results Of The Study Show Cognitive Improvements Among Those Who Consumed Probiotics
The participants of the study gave blood samples and were tested for cognitive function using a standardised questionnaire known as the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). The tests include stating what the date is, counting backwards from 100 by sevens, naming objects, repeating a phrase and copying a picture. This was repeated after 12 weeks to determine if there were any improvements in the participants' scores.
The study group, who were aged 60 to 95, showed that those who received the probiotic-enriched milk demonstrated significant improvements in cognitive functioning over just a short period (8.7 to 10.6, out of a maximum of 30), while there were no improvements in the non-treatment group (scores fell from 8.5 to 8.0).
"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. We plan to look at these mechanisms in greater detail in our next study," Professor Salami said.
This Breakthrough Shows That Changes In The Body Can Impact The Brain
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health said that probiotics can help create a favorable community of microbes in the gut and help stimulate immune response. Dr Rosa Sancho, head of research at Alzheimer's Research UK said about the study: "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."