Gut health for your brain: Probiotics, prebiotics found to manipulate the gut in obese and insulin-resistant individuals, restoring cognitive function
01/30/2019 // Michelle Simmons // Views

Probiotics and prebiotics restore the cognitive function of obese and insulin-resistant people by controlling their gut, a new study finds. Long-term consumption of foods that have high fat content can cause obese-insulin resistance as well as cognitive decline and microglial hyperactivity.

A team of researchers from the Chiang Mai University in Thailand looked at the effect of a probiotic called Lactobacillus paracasei HII01, a prebiotic called Xyloolidosaccharide, and synbiotics on male obese-insulin resistant mice on a diet high in fat. In the study, the research team fed the mice either a normal diet or a diet high in fat for 12 weeks. Then, in the 13th week, they assigned the mice into four subgroups – a control group, a prebiotic group, a probiotic group, and a synbiotic (both prebiotic and probiotic) group. For another 12 weeks, the mice continued to follow their respective diets. After this, the researchers evaluated the cognitive function of each mouse using blood and brain samples in order to measure metabolic parameters and analyze brain pathology, respectively.

The findings of the study, which were published in the Journal of Neuroinflammation, revealed that the mice fed with a high-fat diet in the treatment groups displayed great reduction in hippocampal oxidative stress and apoptosis, which in turn reduced microglial activation and led to restored cognitive function.

“This is the first report to show the possible link between gut microbiota modification by prebiotics, probiotics, or synbiotics, and the improvement of cognitive function in obese-insulin resistant rat.” the researchers wrote. “These neuroprotective effects may possibly be mediated through the attenuation of inflammation, hippocampal oxidative stress, hippocampal apoptosis, mitochondrial dysfunction as well as microglial dysfunction.”


The researchers believe that their findings highlighted the intake of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics could bring back cognitive function in obese and insulin-resistant individuals, resulting in enhanced hippocampal plasticity, brain mitochondrial function, and reduced microglial activation.

Difference between probiotics and prebiotics

Probiotics and prebiotics play different important roles in the health of a person. Probiotics are live bacteria found in certain foods or supplements, while prebiotics come from types of carbohydrates, mostly fiber, that cannot be digested by the human body.

Foods that are rich in prebiotic fiber include legumes, beans, peas, oats, bananas, berries, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, dandelion greens, garlic, leeks, onions,

On the other hand, probiotic foods include yogurt and fermented foods. Examples of fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha tea, kefir, and non-pasteurized pickles.

Having balanced amounts of both probiotics and prebiotics can help guarantee that you have a healthy balance of these bacteria, which would enhance your health. Good bacteria in the gut can help fight against harmful bacteria and fungi. In addition, they send signals to the immune system and help regulate inflammation.

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