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Daily fibre supplement improves older adults' brain function in just 12 weeks

A daily fibre supplement improved brain function in over 60s in just 12 weeks. The study, published in Nature Communications, showed that this simple and cheap addition to diet can improve performance in memory tests associated with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

As populations age globally, the prevalence of age-related conditions such as cognitive decline and muscle loss is on the rise. Researchers at TwinsUK, the UK’s largest adult twin registry based at King’s College London, sought to understand how targeting the microbiota, the diverse community of microorganisms residing in our intestines, using two cheap, commercially available plant fibre supplements inulin and FOS, could impact both muscle health and brain function.

Researchers assigned 36 twin pairs – 72 individuals – over 60 years old to receive either a placebo or the supplement every day for 12 weeks. Neither the analysis team, nor the participants knew which they received until the analysis was complete (double-blind). Alongside this, all study participants did resistance exercises and ate a protein supplement which was aimed at improving muscle function.

Researchers monitored participants remotely via video, online questionnaires and cognitive tests. They found the fibre supplement led to significant changes in the participants' gut microbiome composition, particularly an increase in the numbers of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium.

While there was no significant difference in muscle strength between the groups, the group receiving the fibre supplement performed better in tests assessing brain function, including the Paired Associates Learning test which is an early marker for Alzheimer’s disease, together with tests of reaction time and processing speed. These measures are important for daily living – for example reacting to traffic or stopping a simple trip-up turning into a fall.

The study was supported by King’s Centre for Ageing Resilience in a Changing Environment (CARICE) and by grants from the National Institute of Health Research and Wellcome Trust.

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Upcoming Events

BAUN Summer Educational Event – Essential Urology Skills

Crowne Plaza, Newcastle Stephenson Quarter
6th June 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Exeter

University of Exeter
22nd June 2024

EBME Expo

Coventry Building Society Arena
26th - 27th June 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - Cardiff

TBA, Cardiff
13th July 2024

AfPP Annual Conference 2024

University of Warwick
2nd - 3rd August 2024

The AfPP Roadshow - London

Cavendish Conference Centre, London
14th September 2024

Access the latest issue of Clinical Services Journal on your mobile device together with an archive of back issues.

Download the FREE Clinical Services Journal app from your device's App store

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