Probiotic Consumption Positively Affects Cognitive Function in Alzheimer’s Disease Patients

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A recent study published on November 10, 2016 in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience examined 60 Alzheimer’s disease patients to assess the effects of probiotic supplementation on cognitive function and metabolic status.  1

The researchers conducted a 12-week randomized, double-blind, and controlled clinical trial, in which the 60 participants were people with Alzheimer’s disease ranging from 60 to 95 years old.

The 60 Alzheimer’s disease patients were randomly divided into two groups of 30 people each.  The control group and the probiotic group.

The control group received milk with no probiotics.  The probiotic group received milk contain a mixture of probiotics.

The probiotic group received 200 ml per day of a probiotic milk drink contain the following probiotics:

Each of the four probiotic strains consisted of 2 × 109 Colony Forming Unit (CFU) per gram for each strain or 2,000,000,000 (billion) CFU per gram for each strain.

The patients’ cognitive function was measured before and after the 12-week trial using a Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE). The Mini–Mental State Examination (MMSE) or Folstein test is a 30-point questionnaire that is used extensively in clinical and research settings to measure cognitive impairment.  It is commonly used in medicine and allied health to screen for dementia. It is also used to estimate the severity and progression of cognitive impairment and to follow the course of cognitive changes in an individual over time; thus making it an effective way to document an individual’s response to treatment.

The test assesses cognitive – or thinking – abilities such as attention, calculation, recall, language, and the ability to follow simple commands.  Any score greater than or equal to 24 points out of 30 indicates normal cognition.

After 12 weeks intervention, the probiotic treated patients showed a significant improvement in the MMSE score of 27.9% compared with a decrease of -5.03% in the control group.  The control group deteriorated from 8.47 to 8.00, while those taking probiotics improved from 8.67 to 10.57.

Despite the probiotics group taking the four probiotic strains for 12 week, all 60 patients remained severely cognitively impaired.

Nevertheless, the study reveals that probiotic administration for 12 weeks has favorable effects on MMSE score’s of the Alzheimer’s disease patients.

Further research is necessary in this area as it provides evidence of the importance of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract microbiome role in overall neurological function.

Probiotics can be consumed either in foods that contain certain strains of probiotics (from fermentation) or by probiotic supplementation. Adding probiotic foods in your diet is important to maintaining symbiosis in the gastrointestinal microbiome.  However, not all probiotic foods will contain all the known strains of probiotics. 

Consuming different probiotic supplements can assure that you are obtaining a variety of strains that have proven effective in many health related issues.  Combining probiotic foods and supplementing with specific strains of probiotics or probiotic formulas is the best way to create symbiosis.

Foods that are fermented and contain probiotics

  • Beet kvass
  • Cheese (raw) (certain types only)
  • Kefir (Coconut milk)
  • Kefir (Cow milk)
  • Kefir (Goat milk)
  • Kimchi
  • Kombucha
  • Miso
  • Natto
  • Pao cai (Pickled Chinese cabbage)
  • Pickles
  • Raw apple cider vinegar
  • Raw cacao
  • Raw honey
  • Raw milk
  • Sauerkraut (raw only)
  • Sourdough bread
  • Soy sauce
  • Tempeh
  • True buttermilk
  • Yogurt

For a more comprehensive list:  List of fermented foods