In a period of 12 weeks, taking a fiber supplement may enhance cognitive function in older adults.

In a period of 12 weeks, taking a fiber supplement may enhance cognitive function in older adults.

The typical mild cognitive decline of aging can deteriorate due to diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease have no known cures. Elderly people’s brain function may be enhanced by dietary fiber supplements, according to research from King’s College London. Every bodily system, including the brain, slows down as we get older. In a healthy aging brain, it’s normal to experience difficulties with multitasking, word recognition, and name recall Source. The mild cognitive decline of an aging brain can sometimes worsen due to diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. More significant problems like memory loss, the inability to organize or solve problems, trouble speaking or writing, mood swings, anxiety, trouble sleeping, and confusion about locations, dates, and times can result from this. Even though there isn’t a cure for dementia or Alzheimer’s disease at this time, some medications and healthy lifestyle choices can help slow the disease’s progression. According to recent research, older adults’ cognitive function may be enhanced by dietary fiber supplements, according to King’s College London researchers. Additionally, researchers discovered that participants’ muscle strength was unaffected by the fiber supplements.

The world’s population is aging faster than in the past and people are living longer, according to the World Health Organization Source. Globally, there were approximately 1.4 billion adults 65 and older in 2022; by 2050, that number is predicted to rise to 2.1 billion. Senior author of this study Dr. Claire Steves, professor of aging and health and head of the Department of Twin Research and Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, told Medical News Today that new approaches to treat age-related conditions like cognitive decline are crucial given the global increase in aging. According to Dr. Steves, this leads to a rise in age-related illnesses, which significantly affect elderly people’s capacity to lead fulfilling lives on their own. Many age-related conditions currently have no effective treatment, so it is critical that we concentrate our efforts in this area. According to her, further research is necessary to increase our understanding of how to stop, slow, or even reverse age-related declines. Dr. Steves and her colleagues concentrated on two prebiotic supplements in this study: fructooligosaccharides (FOS), a plant-based carbohydrate, and dietary fiber inulin.

Recent studies have demonstrated a connection between our health and wellbeing and the bacteria in our stomachs, also referred to as the gut microbiome. The gut-brain axis—a link between these bacteria and the brain—has been demonstrated by studies. There have also been demonstrated links to the health of the muscles and other organs. According to Dr. Steves, “we decided to test whether improving gut microbial health with a prebiotic could improve brain and muscle function.”. We are aware that FOS and inulin are commercially available prebiotic supplements that are safe, affordable, and linked to a healthy gut flora. Another trial that examined inulin and FOS in a population of people residing in nursing homes also had an impact on us. She went on, “Those who took the inulin and FOS supplement showed improvements in hand grip strength, exhaustion levels, and overall measures of frailty.”. According to earlier research, inulin alters the gut microbiome, lessens neuroinflammation, and speeds up the healing process after traumatic brain injury.

According to studies on FOS, the supplement may help prevent Alzheimer’s by lowering beta-amyloid levels in the brain, as well as help with neuroinflammation reduction and memory enhancement. For this study, 36 pairs of twins older than 60 were enlisted by the researchers. For a duration of 12 weeks, one twin per pair was administered a daily dietary fiber supplement, whereas the other twin was given a placebo. Scientists used video, online surveys, and cognitive tests to keep an eye on study participants. In order to enhance muscle function, participants were also required to consume a protein supplement and engage in resistance training. Because the study was double-blind, neither the analysis team nor the participants knew which they had been given until the end of the investigation. At the end of the study, researchers discovered that the group taking a fiber supplement performed better on tests of brain function, such as the Paired Associates Learning test Source, an early indicator of Alzheimer’s disease, and tests of processing speed and reaction time.

Over a 12-week period, Dr. Steves stated, “We were pleasantly surprised to find that those who received the prebiotic supplement had an improvement in memory and thinking tests compared to the placebo.”. This study adds to the body of evidence supporting the known relationship between gut bacteria and brain function, and it holds great promise for future research aimed at preserving cognitive function and preventing age-related memory loss. She continued, “We have demonstrated that a basic, affordable, and easily available fiber supplement, which promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, can actually influence brain function and memory test results.”. This encouraging outcome in just three months shows great potential for improving brain and memory function in our aging population. The supplement and placebo groups did not significantly differ in terms of muscle strength, according to the scientists. Dr. Segil acknowledged that he agreed with the study’s authors that, at this point, it is challenging to report improvements in cognition and for the study to have clinical significance. Even after reading the study, he said, “I like to say you are what you eat,” but sometimes “your brain is what you eat,” so it’s difficult to say that altering your diet will prevent aging, improve your muscles, and sharpen your mind.

However, there is a correlation between poor diet and high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart and cardiovascular risk factors. He continued, “There are definitely things that you shouldn’t eat; it’s harder to say what you should eat.” Despite this, I can’t say whether or not adding fiber will help. Dr. Segil stated that he would prefer blood tests to be conducted in conjunction with this study to observe any changes in participant albumin and sugar levels. He continued, “I would really like to see these tests repeated with some blood tests to give a doctor like myself more meaningful data, to see if these kinds of things change things in the blood.”. The next step would be to determine whether changes in the blood translate to changes in the brain. Richard and Rapozo both expressed interest in seeing similar studies done using prebiotic fiber from whole foods as opposed to supplements.

I would like readers to consider fiber as a component of a whole food approach, which means that it is one of the many nutrients and compounds that we require for a healthy gut. Discover which foods you enjoy and will consume are especially high in fiber: fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, according to Richard. The general consensus is to aim for 25–35 grams of fiber per day. For instance, depending on the type of bean or pulse, 1/2 cup of beans may contain anywhere between 6 and 9 grams of fiber. To determine how much fiber you might be consuming each day, pull up a chart on the internet Source that lists the amounts of fiber in various foods, she advised. Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, as well as extra prebiotic fibers—two, rather than all four—are included in high-fiber whole foods, according to Rapozo. Prebiotic fiber-rich common vegetables include garlic, onion, leek, and shallot, as well as asparagus, beets, fennel, green peas, snow peas, corn, and cabbage. Legume foods such as kidney beans, soybeans, lentils, and chickpeas are excellent providers of prebiotics. Apples, nectarines, peaches, persimmons, watermelon, grapefruit, and pomegranates are examples of fruit sources. Oats, wheat, rye, and barley are examples of whole grains. Pistachio and cashew nuts are also rich in prebiotic fiber.


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