A key to boosting memory in old age could be probiotics found in Parmesan, according to a new study.
When a group of 52 to 75-year-olds with mild cognitive impairment spent three months taking probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG), their brain test scores improved.
The mental lift was linked with changes in their gut microbiome, according to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Simultaneously, the universities’ research revealed those who were mildly cognitive impaired had a higher number of Prevotella genus microbes, suggesting the gut’s flora and fauna could act as an early indicator of cognitive decline.
The Prevotella abundance decreased when the mildly impaired group were given LGG probiotics – this coincided with better cognitive scores, hinting scientists could make older adults’ brains healthier by manipulating their gut microbiota.
Though LGG is widely available in a supplement, it is also found in Parmesan and yogurt.
Mass market cheese company Babybel recently launched Babybel Plus Probiotic that purports to contain billions of live LGG cultures.
Mashael Aljumaah, of North Carolina State University, said: “The implication of this finding is quite exciting, as it means that modifying the gut microbiome through probiotics could potentially be a strategy to improve cognitive performance, particularly in individuals with mild cognitive impairment.
“This adds a new layer to our understanding of the microbiome brain-gut connection and opens up new avenues for combating cognitive decline associated with aging.
“Many studies focus on severe forms of cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, but these conditions are more advanced, making them significantly harder to reverse or treat.
“In contrast, we focused on mild cognitive impairment, which can include problems with memory, language, or judgment.
“Interventions at this stage of cognitive impairment could slow down or prevent the progression to more severe forms of dementia.”
“By identifying specific shifts in the gut microbiome associated with mild cognitive impairment, we’re exploring a new frontier in preventive strategies in cognitive health.
“If these findings are replicated in future studies, it suggests the feasibility of using gut microbiome-targeted strategies as a novel approach to support cognitive health.”
The 169 participants were assessed as being either mildly cognitively impaired or having no issues in that area.
Each group was then divided, half taking a placebo for three months and the rest taking the LGG probiotic over the same period.
To test the cohort’s guts, experts used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to spot and compare the bacteria in stool samples.
Whole genome sequencing was then used to understand the bacteria’s role.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker