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Specific Gut Bacteria Associated With Improved Cognitive Function

Previous studies conducted on rodents have found a link between gastrointestinal microbiota and cognitive function. Now a new study involving humans suggests that higher levels of the gut bacteria phylum Bacteroidetes may be associated with better cognitive function in women.


Participants in the study included 34 women between the ages of 25 and 45. The women were normal weight, overweight, and obese. The researchers collected fecal samples from all of the women. Interference control was calculated using an accuracy interference test, which measures how accurately people can complete cognitive tasks when there is an interference, and a reaction time interference test, which measures the impact on reaction time when faced with an interference.


The researchers found that scores on the accuracy interference test were inversely associated with Bacteroidetes and the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes. A higher score on the accuracy interference test is associated with poorer cognitive control. The researchers also found an inverse association between reaction time interference and Bacteroidetes and the ratio of Bacteroidetes to Firmicutes.


Participants with greater relative abundances of Bacteroidetes were better able to maintain cognitive performance when faced with interference.


Researchers from the University of Illinois conducted the study. It was published in the April 2017 issue of FASEB Journal.


Having a varied composition of bacteria in your digestive system is essential for good gut health and for good health overall. If you’re looking to improve gut bacteria diversity, consider taking a prebiotic or probiotic supplement. A recent study also found that exercise may help boost gut bacteria diversity.

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