Neuroscientists have discovered that the daily supplementation of probiotics may improve the mental performance of diabetics, particularly in areas of learning and memory. The study observed the effect of diet on four groups of lab rats, two of which had been identified as diabetic. All four groups were fed a normal diet but two groups, including one diabetic group and one healthy group, were also supplemented with probiotics. The groups were observed over an 8 month period and tested on their mental performance over the duration, including learning capability and maze navigation tests.

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The results revealed that the diabetic group that didn't receive probiotic supplementation displayed decreased learning capability and maze navigation, in comparison to the healthy control animals. However, both the diabetic and healthy groups which received probiotic supplementation displayed a significant increase in mental performance in the learning capability and maze tests.

The study authors commented that these results could be a result of a decrease in oxidative stress following probiotic supplementation, as tests revealed lower levels of stress markers in the probiotic groups.

"From the present results we concluded that probiotics efficiently reverse deteriorated brain functions in the levels of cognitive performances and their proposed synaptic mechanisms in diabetes mellitus." They commented in Neuroscience, a peer-reviewed journal.

This new study lends to the growing field of research concerned with the gut-brain axis, which has also revealed the gut microbiota's potential role in mental wellbeing. Earlier this month a Swedish group of researchers also revealed that the gut microbiota may play a role in early diagnosis of diabetes.

Source: Davari, S. et al (2013) Probiotics treatment improves diabetes-induced impairment of synaptic activity and cognitive function: Behavioral and electrophysiological proofs of microbiome-gut-brain axis. Neuroscience. 240. 287-296


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