How yoghurt, kimchi, and parmesan may be the secret to preventing memory loss

Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) is also found in yoghurt, parmesan, kimchi and sauerkraut

The key to preventing memory loss in old age may lie in a probiotic found in Parmesan cheese and yogurt, research suggests.

Findings from a new study reveal that people with mild cognitive impairment who were given the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) for three months saw improvements in their cognitive scores.

This improvement was linked to changes in their gut microbiome – the mix of bacteria in our digestive system.

And the University of North Carolina researchers say the findings could herald a “new frontier” in preventive strategies to combat memory loss.

Probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) is also found in yoghurt, parmesan, kimchi and sauerkraut

LGG, which is widely available as a supplement, is also found in parmesan cheese, yogurt, and fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut.

Scientists recruited 169 participants between the ages of 52 and 75 who were divided into two groups depending on whether they had mild cognitive impairment or a healthy brain.

Within each group, participants received either the LGG probiotic or a placebo in a three-month trial.

The team also used gene sequencing to study participants’ gut bacteria.

Their analysis found that participants with mild cognitive impairment had higher levels of a bacteria called Prevotella in their guts compared to those with normal cognitive function.

This suggests that the composition of the gut microbiome could serve as an early indicator of mild cognitive impairment, allowing interventions to occur earlier, the researchers said.

They also found that participants with mild cognitive impairment who were given the LGG probiotic showed a decrease in the amount of Prevotella present over three months.

This change coincided with improved cognitive scores, suggesting that brain health in older adults may be improved by taking the probiotic, they said.

Author Mashael Aljumaah 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, especially in individuals with mild cognitive impairment.

“Many studies focus on severe forms of cognitive disease such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, but these conditions are more advanced, making them significantly more difficult to cure or treat.

‘In contrast, we focused on mild cognitive impairment, including problems with memory, language or judgment.

Interventions at this stage of cognitive impairment may slow or prevent progression to more severe forms of dementia.

“By identifying specific shifts in the gut microbiome associated with mild cognitive impairment, we are exploring a new frontier in preventive strategies in cognitive health.”

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WHAT SHOULD A BALANCED DIET LOOK LIKE?

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS

Meals should be based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, ideally whole grains, according to the NHS

• Eat at least 5 servings of different fruits and vegetables every day. All fresh, frozen, dried and canned fruit and vegetables count

• Basic meals based on potatoes, bread, rice, pasta or other starchy carbohydrates, preferably whole grains

• 30 grams of fiber per day: This is equivalent to eating all of the following: 5 servings of fruits and vegetables, 2 whole-wheat muesli biscuits, 2 thick slices of whole-wheat bread, and a large baked potato with skin

• Provide dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soy drinks) and choose lower-fat, lower-sugar options

• Eat some beans, legumes, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins (including 2 servings of fish per week, one of which is fatty)

• Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and consume in small quantities

• Drink 6-8 cups/glasses of water per day

• Adults should have less than 6 g of salt and 20 g of saturated fat for women or 30 g for men per day

Source: NHS Eatwell Guide

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