Probiotics may boost learning, memory for Alzheimer's patients
A research team from Iran are the first to show how a daily dose of probiotics for 3 months could be effective for improving memory and thinking abilities in individuals with Alzheimer's disease.
The researchers found that Alzheimer's patients who consumed milk enriched with beneficial live bacteria every day for 12 weeks showed significant improvements in cognitive functioning.
Senior study author Prof. Mahmoud Salami, from Kashan University in Iran, and colleagues recently published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that are "helpful" to human health. These include bacterial groups such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium, as well as yeasts, including Saccharomyces boulardii.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, probiotics can act in a number of ways. They can help create a favorable community of microbes in the gut, for example, and help stimulate immune response.
Research has shown that these friendly microorganisms - many of which are added to food products, topical medications, and dietary supplements - may help protect against numerous infections and diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), eczema, certain allergies, colds, and tooth decay.
Previous animal studies have also shown probiotics to improve learning and memory - an association that has been attributed to beneficial alterations in the gut microbiome that affect the brain. Whether probiotics have the same effect in humans, however, has been unclear.