foods with probioticsAccording to the World Health Organization, about 47 million people live with dementia. It’s a very difficult condition to cope with, especially when one can see its effects take a toll of an elderly loved one. There is currently no cure for dementia, but new research shows that probiotics, the good bacteria can help improve memory. If your loved one has dementia or Alzheimer's you may want to consider probiotics for them and we'll explain why below! 

Gut Bacteria 101

The good bacteria, known as gut macrobiota not only affects our gut but also helps with our nervous system as well as our brain. Gut macrobiota aids in food digestion and production of vitamins. This type of bacteria also is responsible for protecting our immune system and our brain. 

Powerful Ways Probiotics Help the Brain

Probiotics not only help keep your digestive system healthy but they have been proven to help improve symptoms of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety and memory loss. See the ways that probiotics can help the brain below. 

  • Produce neurotransmitters – help brain cells communicate with each other.
  • Provide neuroprotective coating on brain cells - short-chain fatty acids such as butyric and proprionic acid help improve age-related memory loss. 
  • Produce norepinephrine & Lactobacillus – acetylcholine – the type of bacteria that is deficient and related to Alzheimer’s. 
  • Increase levels of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) – the substance that stimulates the brain to grow new cells and connections.

Ways to Incorporate Good Bacteria in Your Lifestyle 

  • Eat Fermented Foods- There are many delicious foods you may already have in your kitchen that you can ingest to get natural probiotics. Try incorporating fermented foods that have low amounts of sugar and that contain live bacterial cultures. Below are some foods that contain good gut bacteria.

foods that help the brain

  • Take Probiotic Supplements- Look for probiotic supplements that include a variety of strains – Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Saccharomyces, ect. Be sure to read the CFU number on your probiotics supplement (number of colony forming units) and make sure yours have the highest number. The higher the number, the stronger the product. 
  • Physicians have already seen firsthand the benefits of probiotics. Anna Lamnari, MD an internist, geriatrician writes on Sixty and Me said she saw improvement in her female patient at a nursing home. She writes, "Her dementia was at the stage where she did not recognize anybody and stopped talking altogether. Imagine my surprise and delight, when- after a course of probiotics I ordered for a bout of diarrhea - she started talking again and recognized her husband!" 
  • It's clear to see that probiotics are already helping individuals with memory loss. Talk to your doctor about your diet and medical condition and see if this is something that may work for your loved one. 

Sources: 

https://www.who.int/features/factfiles/dementia/en/

http://sixtyandme.com/stomach-for-brains-how-probiotics-can-help-you-with-your-memory/

https://www.verywellmind.com/explanations-for-forgetting-2795045

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dementia/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20352019