Link between gut bacteria and brain’s memory function


Can probiotic bacteria play a role in how well your memory works? It’s too early to say for sure, but mouse studies have turned up some clues worth remembering.

Preliminary results suggest that giving mice the kinds of bacteria often found in dietary supplements have a beneficial effect on memory when it comes to navigating mazes or avoiding electrical shocks.

One such study, focusing on mazes and object-in-place recognition, was published last year. And researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., are seeing similarly beneficial effects on memory in preliminary results from their experiments.

PNNL’s Janet Jansson provided an advance look at her team’s yet-to-be-published findings here today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The experiments gauged the effects of giving normal mice and germ-free mice a supplement of Lactobacillus bacteria — a type of bacteria that’s already been linked to improved cognitive function in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

To measure how the presence of the bacteria affected memory, Jansson and her colleagues used a standard memory test that involved giving the mice a foot shock in a darkened part of the chamber, waiting several days, then seeing how well the mice knew to avoid the chamber’s dark place.

“The longer it takes for them to go back, the better memory they have,” Jansson explained.

She said the mice that were given the bacteria showed “much improved memory.”

The PNNL team then focused on the mechanism linking gut bacteria to brain function. The mice with the Lactobacillus boost showed elevated levels of mannitol, a sugar molecule that has some therapeutic applications.

And when the researchers looked at color-coded images of the hippocampus, a brain region that’s associated with memory, they found higher concentrations of GABA, a chemical that previous studies have linked to working-memory capacity.

“We’ve gotten some pieces of the puzzle, but it’s not complete yet,” Jansson said.

Joseph Petrosino, a microbiologist at Baylor College of Medicine, said that the link between Lactobacillus and memory improvement made sense, but that lots of details remain to be filled in.

“Lactobacillus is like the Swiss army knife of the microbiome. … The challenge is that, as with any microbial species, strain-to-strain variation can be as much as 40 percent,” Petrosino told GeekWire. “So not all strains are made equal. We have to understand which strains are doing what.”

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What To Look For In A #Probiotic Supplement


When people think about bacteria, the first few things that typically comes to mind are dirt, germs, disease and illness. There is not much positive that springs to mind at the mention of the word. However, our bodies are home to trillions of microorganisms that are essential to our everyday health and overall well-being.

Think about this; the human body is made up of approximately 30 trillion human cells and anywhere between 30 and 50 trillion bacterial cells. Essentially, we are made of just as much bacteria as we are human cells. When you consider this important information, it is easy to understand why bacteria are important to our health.

What Are Probiotics?

Probiotics are the bacteria and yeast that live within our body, and are responsible for keeping us and our guts healthy. These are very different to the pathogenic bacteria that cause disease and illness. In fact, this friendly flora travel through our digestive system, protecting us from pathogens, producing vitamins that we need, and making sure all digestive processes are running smoothly.

Probiotics are particularly useful after an illness where you were prescribed antibiotics. These medications can severely deplete the levels of good bacteria in our systems as well as the bad. When the levels of friendly bacteria are reduced, pathogenic materials are able to flourish, causing digestive problems and a whole host of other illnesses.

Choosing The Best Probiotic

Given the importance of the digestive system to overall health, maintenance of the bacteria levels is critical. A poorly functioning gut can mean loss of nutrients and minerals that we need. Because the gut and your brain are in constant communication, the health of your gut is integral to your well-being. A healthy digestive system can therefore mean improved cognitive function, appearance, and reduced depression.

There are so many strains of probiotics, each with their own set of particular benefits, and there is still room for more research. Some can be found in your genital or urinary systems and also in fermented foods, whereas others live as lactic acid in your intestines. When choosing a probiotic, you need to consider your specific conditions as well as what each strand is beneficial for.

The Lactobacillus Family

L. Acidophilus: Great for Acne and Vaginal Health

This probiotic has been used for decades originally as a treatment for constipation and diarrhea in the 1920’s. They are able to colonize in the intestines and promoting intestinal health. Additionally, this flora can treat vaginal infections and inflammatory acne as well as reduce lactose intolerance and the risk of colon cancer.

L. Rhamnosus: Great for Eczema

Studies have found that this probiotic is able to colonize in the gut and is therefore great for treating diarrhea. Also, this particular strain has proven to be beneficial in combating eczema. Studies showed that when taken during pregnancy, children were half as likely to develop atopic eczema as the children of mothers who did not.

L. Plantarum: Great for Inflammation

This probiotic helps to regulate immunity and control inflammation in the intestines. They are particularly useful in providing relief from bloating and abdominal pain in patients suffering from IBS.

L.Casei: Great for Brain Function and GI Support

Another probiotic that shows support for gastrointestinal health, this strain also helps to regulate diarrhea. Recent studies have surprised scientists and health professionals alike as they discovered that this strain helps to relieve anxiety. Supplements of L. Casei have been linked to a significant reduction is anxiety and depressive symptoms.

The Bifidobacterium Family

B. Lactis: Great for Immunity

When you are looking to give your immune system a little boost, this choice has a lot of potential. Research has found that when B. Lactis supplements are taken there is an increase in antibody levels, indicative of a strengthened immune system.

B. Longum: Great for Constipation and Brain Function

A bacterial strain that again helps the brain and the gut, showing just how linked these two systems are. This strain actually colonizes in our bodies from birth and is responsible for producing lactic acid from sugars to stabilize the acid levels of the gut. Regular bowel movements are a product of a stabilized GI tract. Additionally, these supplements have shown an ability to lower stress levels and increase memory.

B. Bifidum: Great for Immunity and GI Support

Over time, stress, diet and antibiotics deplete your natural source of B. Bifidum which will have a negative impact on your immunity. This strain is directly responsible for regulating your body’s innate immune response, so when the levels fall too low, you leave yourself open to infection. Additionally, this flora helps to prevent pathogens from flourishing in the gut, maintaining optimal bacterial balance.

B. Breve: Great for Anti-aging

Spending too much time in the sun not only increases your risk of skin cancer but also prematurely ages your skin. Studies with B. Breve have shown that increased levels actually prevent the UV induced aging and can help to keep your skin looking younger and more hydrated.

The Streptococcus Family

If the mention of this name caused you to gasp, you would not be wrong. Although typically associated with the dangerous bacterial infections, this family does contain some beneficial strains. Streptococcus Thermophilus has shown to possess antibacterial qualities and can prevent certain diseases.

Recent research indicated that the benefits of this flora also reach the skin by improving the levels of ceramides. These are the natural lipids in our skin that protect the underlying tissues from damage. Streptococcus Thermophilus helps to support the ceramides by trapping antioxidants that dry and prematurely age skin.

What to Look For

Now that you know the benefits linked with some of the most common probiotics, you can choose what best suits your needs. Be sure when you are shopping that you always check the label. You want to get ‘live’ bacteria with CFUs (colony forming units) in the billions to ensure you get a potent amount. Additionally check the expiration dates and best by dates. This tells you that your bacteria will be viable through and able to reach your gut while they are still live. There is no substitute for quality, so you need to be prepared to spend a little extra for good probiotics. A typical high-quality supplement will run between $45 and $70.

Once You Are Home

Be sure to keep your probiotics away from heat and moisture, which can kill microbes. A cool, dark place is recommended, especially the fridge. Many strains are delicate and easily damaged by heat, which makes refrigeration ideal. When it comes to taking your probiotics, it is recommended to take on an empty stomach; the earlier in the day the better, with the ideal time being right after you wake up.

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Probiotics, but do they really help?


Probiotics are having a moment. They’re touted as the next big superstar in disease prevention and in treatment for ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome, gestational diabetes, allergies and obesity. Fans claim that these “good” bacteria will nourish your gut microbiome and crowd out the “bad” microbes. As a result, you’ll experience better digestion, a healthier immune system and a sunnier mood.

Scientists and physicians are optimistic about the future of “good” microbes. Many probiotic and microbial-based compounds are moving to the next stages of research and clinical trials. Researchers hope this will illuminate how gut microorganisms interact with specific diseases and medical conditions, yielding more-targeted and therapeutic probiotics. “We’ll see a new wave of probiotics coming out that can be used to treat disease” in the coming years, Kashyap predicts.

Until then, it’s anyone’s guess whether taking a daily dose of bacteria will help you.

Because probiotics are sold as food and dietary supplements, they aren’t subject to the same regulation that the Food and Drug Administration exercises over drugs. (Supplements don’t have to prove their effectiveness before being sold, though the FDA can intervene if problems are found once they are sold.) That means the products may not actually contain live bacteria or even the type and number of bacterial strains promised on the packaging.

“There’s no way to confirm what is listed on the box is what is in the box, that it’s safe and useful, and that it will help you,” Kashyap says. For example, an examination of 16 probiotic products in 2015 found that only one contained the bacterial strain listed on the label of every tested sample.

“Right now, we can’t predict who’s going to feel better and who’s not,” Kashyap says. Some people don’t feel any different when taking the supplement, while others say it’s made them healthier. read more...

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Risk for Ulcers in Horses


Now that the show season is at hand, owners’ are probably aware of their competitive partner’s risk for developing gastric ulcers. With two out of three performance horses affected, it’s important to ensure equine athletes are at peak health. But don’t forget about the horses that stay home. Even horses that don’t travel or compete are at risk for ulcers.

“Wherever there is stress, there can be stomach ulcers,” says Hoyt Cheramie, DVM, MS, manager of Merial Large Animal Veterinary Services. “Horses may be stressed by everyday situations that don’t seem stressful to us, like spending large amounts of time in a stall or when their friends leave the barn.”

He says some situations that can cause them include:

  • Light training;
  • Short-term travel;
  • Trailering;
  • Change in routine;
  • Change in feed schedule;
  • Limited turnout or grazing;
  • Lay-up due to sickness or injury; or
  • Social regrouping.

Cheramie notes that removing horses from social groups could be one of the major contributing factors to an increased incidence of stomach ulcers in those left at home.

“Off-site training and showing can cause a disruption in social groupings and can be anxiety-provoking for some,” he says. “Horses form strong emotional bonds with their stable-mates so when they are separated, it can be very upsetting for both horses.”

Social grouping disruptions are also more common when spring arrives, as it often heralds a busy time for everyone, es

pecially those with broodmares. Foaling season means additional stress not only on mares and foals, but also for other horses, as well, due to increased activity in the barn at irregular hours.

Know the Signs of Ulcer Presence

“Stomach ulcers are prevalent across all breeds, disciplines, and ages,” Cheramie says, adding that they can develop in as litt

le as five days. “Because it is not so much the behavior but rather the change in behavior that signals the possibility of a physical problem, horse owners need to know what is normal for their horse and what is not.”

Watch out for clinical signs of ulcers, which include:

  • Decreased appetite;
  • Weight loss or poor body condition;
  • Change in attitude for the worse;
  • Recurrent colic;
  • Dull hair coat; and
  • Less-than-optimal (poor) performance, resistance to work, or difficulty training.

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Effect of Probiotics/Prebiotics on Cattle Health and Productivity

Probiotics/prebiotics have the ability to modulate the balance and activities of the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota, and are, thus, considered beneficial to the host animal and have been used as functional foods. Numerous factors, such as dietary and management constraints, have been shown to markedly affect the structure and activities of gut microbial communities in livestock animals. Previous studies reported the potential of probiotics and prebiotics in animal nutrition; however, their efficacies often vary and are inconsistent, possibly, in part, because the dynamics of the GI community have not been taken into consideration. Under stressed conditions, direct-fed microbials may be used to reduce the risk or severity of scours caused by disruption of the normal intestinal environment. The observable benefits of prebiotics may also be minimal in generally healthy calves, in which the microbial community is relatively stable. However, probiotic yeast strains have been administered with the aim of improving rumen fermentation efficiency by modulating microbial fermentation pathways. This review mainly focused on the benefits of probiotics/prebiotics on the GI microbial ecosystem in ruminants, which is deeply involved in nutrition and health for the animal. Read more…

Promote greater livestock health with Probiotics

Probiotics are known to help with human digestive health. Same theory applies to animals, no surprise here.

As a result of this, many cattle producers have begun transitioning to probiotics, which are also known as direct feed microbials (DFM). Unlike antibiotics, which are drugs which kill bacteria (both harmful and health-promoting ones) probiotics are live cultures of beneficial bacteria. By introducing them into an animal’s diet a cattle producer can, in theory at least, promote greater animal health and resistance to infection by replenishing the healthful bacteria in their cow’s gut.

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