Alzheimer’s disease is a debilitating disorder that affects an estimated 5.4 million people in America, most of whom are 65-years-old or older. While millions of dollars are being spent on Alzheimer’s research, to date scientists have been hard pressed to uncover treatments that actually combat the mental decline associated with the disease. However, interesting new results from a clinical study at Kashan University of Medical Sciences in Iran suggest that something as simple as adding certain probiotics to an individual’s diet could help slow that loss of cognitive functioning.
The Benefits of Probiotics
Doctors have understood the benefits of probiotics, naturally occurring bacteria mostly found in cultured dairy products, on the human digestive system for years. Probiotics can help improve digestion, increase nutritional uptake, and may even regulate weight gain. But can these bacteria help Alzheimer’s caregivers combat one the world’s scariest diseases?
That’s the question that a group of researchers sought to answer when they enlisted the help 60 Alzheimer’s patients in Iran. The participants were split into two groups (control and experimental) and given either plain milk in addition to an otherwise normal diet or milk that had been fortified with four specific probiotics. Both groups continued on this regimented diet for 12 weeks. At the end of the 12 weeks researchers admniistered the Mini-Mental State Examination—essentially a quick way to measure cognitive improvements.
The results of this clinical trial (published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience) show that the individuals who were given probiotic-infused milk actually enjoyed marked increase (as much as 27%) in their cognitive functioning.
Dr. Keith Fargo, Director of Scientific Programs and outreach for The Alzheimer’s Association, said that while the Iranian study was designed well and conducted smoothly there’s a long way to go to prove concretely that probiotics have a definite beneficial effect on Alzheimer’s.
However, many doctors do already recommend adding probiotic-rich foods or supplements to an Alzheimer’s patient’s current diet. (If you’re an Alzheimer’s family caregiver in Texas, please speak with your personal physician or dietician before making any changes to your loved one’s diet.)
Coping with Alzheimer’s Disease
The Texas Department of State Health Services estimates that unpaid Alzheimer’s caregivers in Texas (mostly family members) sacrifice 1.5 billion hours of their own time annually to care for victims of this terrifying disease. But there is help.
Second Family Home Care offers in-home Alzheimer’s care in Plano, Texas and the surrounding areas as well as dementia care and other elder care services on an as-needed basis. This allows family caregivers to reclaim some of their time for themselves without worrying about their loved one’s safety or comfort.
To learn how our caring professionals can help you and your family, contact us to schedule a consultation. Call (972) 347-0700 today.