Fiber supplements may enhance brain function in older people

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A recent study has shed light on the potential cognitive benefits of fiber supplements in older adults, offering intriguing insights into the relationship between diet, gut health, and brain function.

Published in Nature Communications, this research focused on individuals aged 60 and above, exploring how taking prebiotic fiber supplements over a 12-week period could impact memory.

The study delves into the significance of the gut microbiome—the vast community of microorganisms living in our digestive systems—and its influence on both mental and physical health as we age.

With advancing age, the diversity and resilience of the gut microbiome tend to diminish, which can make older adults more susceptible to diseases and negatively affected by medications.

Participants in the study were given either a placebo or a fiber supplement. Their cognitive abilities were then assessed using the Paired Associates Learning test, a tool recognized for its relevance in identifying early signs of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Remarkably, those who received the fiber supplement displayed significant improvements in memory, suggesting a beneficial link between fiber intake, gut microbiota, and cognitive function.

However, the study had its limitations, with only 72 out of 626 evaluated individuals being able to participate. Despite these constraints, the findings have sparked interest among experts.

Thomas R. Vidic, MD, highlighted the study’s fascination but cautioned that research on the gut-brain connection is still in its early stages.

Similarly, Amy Reichelt, Ph.D., noted that the study suggests an association rather than a direct cause-and-effect relationship between fiber supplements and enhanced cognition.

This research adds to a growing body of evidence supporting the influence of the gut microbiota on mental health.

A study from 2023 linked specific gut microbiota to mood disorders such as anxiety and depression, underscoring the potential of dietary interventions in improving mental well-being.

While the exact mechanisms through which fiber and the gut microbiome influence brain function remain to be fully understood, these findings highlight the importance of dietary choices in maintaining cognitive health into old age.

As the field of gut-brain axis research continues to evolve, it opens new pathways for nutritional strategies aimed at supporting both mental and physical health.

If you care about Alzheimer’s disease, please read studies that bad lifestyle habits can cause Alzheimer’s disease, and strawberries can be good defence against Alzheimer’s.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies that oral cannabis extract may help reduce Alzheimer’s symptoms, and Vitamin E may help prevent Parkinson’s disease.

The research findings can be found in Nature Communications.

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