Probiotics are touted for numerous health benefits, and these helpful bacteria and yeasts aren't limited to the gut. Studies have shown promise for treating Alzheimer's and brain diseases with probiotics.
Scientists in Iran found a link between probiotic dietary supplements and improved cognitive function, according to clinical trial results released in 2016.
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In particular, the study examined the effects of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium bacteria in elderly Alzheimer's patients. A daily dose of the probiotics taken over a 12-week period resulted in improvement on the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scale, which measures cognitive impairment.
The study, conducted by researchers at Kashan University of Medical Sciences, Kashan, and Islamic Azad University, Tehran, Iran, provided new evidence that advanced previous research indicating that probiotics improved learning and memory in mice.
"These findings indicate that change in the metabolic adjustments might be a mechanism by which probiotics affect Alzheimer's and possibly other neurological disorders," the study's senior author Professor Mahmoud Salami said in a statement.
Diet, exercise, sleep and stress reduction are the four main avenues for preventing Alzheimer's disease, Rudy Tanzi, director of the Alzheimer’s Genome Project and a leading researcher in the field at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, told CBS News.
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He recommends a Mediterranean diet and probiotics in the form of yogurt, kefir or supplements.
"It turns out there’s what’s called a gut-brain axis, where the bacteria in your gut are creating chemicals that interact with your brain that do everything from determine your mood to control how much inflammation there is in your brain," Tanzi explained.
Other studies also have shown promise.
A 2017 study found that giving Bifidobacterium breve strain A1 to Alzheimer's model mice improved cognitive dysfunction and suppressed inflammation, according to Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.
Another study published in the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research found that Lactobacillus plantarum MTCC 1325 may improve Alzheimer's symptoms.
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This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.