A simple fiber supplement could sharpen the aging brain

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In an exciting development for enhancing brain health among the elderly, a recent study has shown that taking a daily fiber supplement can improve brain function in individuals over 60 within just three months.

Published in Nature Communications, this research reveals that incorporating a simple and affordable dietary addition could enhance memory performance, particularly in tests that signal early Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the study noted that these prebiotic supplements, specifically inulin and FOS, did not impact muscle strength during the same timeframe.

Dr. Mary Ni Lochlainn, the lead researcher, emphasized the potential of these findings to significantly contribute to improving the quality of life for the aging population.

By exploring the connection between the gut and the brain, scientists are opening up new avenues for maintaining health and cognitive function as we age.

This study is part of a broader effort to address the challenges posed by a globally aging population, including the increase in conditions like cognitive decline and muscle loss.

Conducted by researchers at TwinsUK, King’s College London’s largest adult twin registry, the study focused on how altering the gut microbiome through diet could affect both brain and muscle health.

The gut microbiome consists of trillions of microorganisms that play a crucial role in our overall health.

In the study, 36 pairs of twins over the age of 60 were divided into two groups. One group received a fiber supplement daily for 12 weeks, while the other group received a placebo.

The study was double-blind, meaning neither the participants nor the researchers knew who received the supplement until the study concluded.

All participants also engaged in resistance exercises and consumed a protein supplement aimed at enhancing muscle function.

The results showed a significant improvement in brain function among those who took the fiber supplement, as evidenced by their performance in cognitive tests such as the Paired Associates Learning test, which is an early marker for Alzheimer’s disease.

They also showed improvements in reaction time and processing speed, critical for everyday tasks like driving and preventing falls.

Interestingly, while the fiber supplement led to notable changes in the gut microbiome, including an increase in beneficial bacteria like Bifidobacterium, there was no marked improvement in muscle strength.

This suggests that the benefits of dietary fiber may be more pronounced in brain function than in muscle health.

Senior author Professor Claire Steves highlighted the accessibility and safety of these plant fibers, making them a potentially valuable tool for a broad audience, especially in times when many are looking for cost-effective health interventions.

The study also demonstrated the feasibility of conducting remote trials with older adults, a method that could expand the reach of future research efforts and improve life quality for aging populations worldwide.

The team plans to explore the long-term impacts and potential benefits of fiber supplementation in larger groups, aiming to further validate these promising findings.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies about what you need to know about supplements and cancer, and this supplement could reduce coughing, congestion, and sore throat.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that vitamin D can help reduce inflammation, and results showing vitamin K may lower your heart disease risk by a third.

The research findings can be found in Nature Communications.

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