Gut bacteria found to influence brain health in old age

Keeping your mind sharp is important for older adults. There are several factors that help protect against cognitive decline as you age. These are, for example, physical exercise, diet, intestinal microbiome (the composition of bacteria in the intestines). DiscussGut bacteria have been discovered that affect brain health in old age© University of Cambridge

Research suggests that bacteria in the gut may play a role in maintaining brain health as we age. In particular, the bacterium Asaccharobacter celatus (A celatus) may be beneficial.

Many people report that they become more forgetful as they age. For example, they may confuse dates or forget where they parked their car. If this happens rarely, then this is normal, because over time our brain still begins to work worse.

Over time, however, such symptoms become more frequent and the person experiences mild cognitive impairment. Alarmingly, this often leads to dementia.

Gut bacteria discovered that affect brain health in old age© Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Intestinal bacteria perform functions that keep our bodies healthy. Thus, Celatus, along with some other bacteria, can produce a compound such as equol. The latter has been linked to improved brain function in older adults, but not everyone has enough A celatus in their gut to produce equol.

One recent study found that A celatus is associated with executive functions. That is, with complex cognitive tasks that a person faces every day, including mathematical calculations in the head or reorganizing tasks for the day if something changes.

It turned out that the more A celatus bacteria there were in healthy older adults aged 50 to 80 years, the higher they scored on a test of executive function. This study appears promising, but more evidence is needed to confirm the potential benefits of both A celatus bacteria and soy products for older adults.

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