There are quite a number of myths associated with Dementia in general and Alzheimer’s disease in particular that need to be addressed. Around a population of 5.8 million in the US is prey to Dementia.
Can Probiotics Heal Dementia
The most common form of Dementia is Alzheimer’s disease which is suffered by mostly the elderly population accounting for more than 6 million in the US.
The plaques and the tangles in the brain and the loss of connection between the neurons is considered to be a major factor for Alzheimer’s causing different levels of brain damage. Generally, the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BNDF) drops to very low levels in Alzheimer’s patients and eventually degenerates the brain cells.
Is There Any Way To Slow Down Degenerative Diseases?
Despite the limited data on the effects of probiotics and prebiotics in humans struggling with Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment (MCI), these are believed to decelerate the neurodegenerative processes. A meta-analysis done on the subject says that probiotics if supplied in the early stages of MCI may elongate the neurodegenerative process.
Studies Made So Far
The various studies made on dementia and MCI, between 1984 and 2021, were referred to. The reviews and meta-analyses were done on several articles. The cognitive functions were measured primarily on Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scoring and secondarily on the nutritional status, inflammation biomarkers, metabolic profiles and oxidative stress.
It is uncertain about Alzheimer’s disease, but probiotic supplementation was found to have improved the cognitive functions of those with MCI. The improvement depends upon the number of probiotic strains administered, the dosage and the duration of treatment provided.
A new relation was discovered between gut health and emotional well-being and cognitive functions. Better gut health can enhance brain functioning in older adults. However, the infusion of probiotics is considered to be capable of changing the structure and composition of fecal microbiota in people having Alzheimer’s. For people who might have undergone surgeries or are under the dosage of antibiotics, probiotics may be helpful in diversifying the select gut bacteria.
The reviews reveal the fact that prebiotics has the ability to enhance BDNF production and circulate it throughout the body helping in delaying the degeneration of neurons.
What Are Probiotics, Prebiotics, And Synbiotics
Probiotics are used to describe living non-pathogenic organisms that help in providing a health benefit to the host. It is favorable for the gut microflora.
Prebiotics are the various nutrients, mostly the fibers that are non-digestible and enhance the growth of gut microbiota, generally the lactobacilli and bifidobacteria.
Synbiotics are the combination of probiotics and prebiotics that beneficially affects the host in improving survival by activating the metabolism of the health-promoting bacteria. These are generally aimed at overcoming possible survival difficulties for the probiotics.
The lacuna behind
The Meta-analysis performed had several shortcomings in it.
- The smaller sample sizes might have left many of the exceptions. It may not be helpful for every MCI patient.
- They did not provide inputs on the dietary practices and the lifestyles that may impact the gut microbiota.
- Different studies had different rating scales to measure cognitive function.
- Many studies lacked the side effects of probiotics which may occur with older people who are more vulnerable to gastrointestinal disorders, skin diseases, etc.
- There are concerns related to experimental design flaws and commercial funding that could have manipulated the outcomes.
The Future Course Of Action
There is a need to work on all the shortcomings the Meta-analysis had with special emphasis on the side effects of the probiotic. Examining the disease severity during the clinical trials and designing proper dosage for different disease conditions would deliver better results.
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