Vampires beware: The link between garlic, gut health, and memory for older adults

In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, garlic was used to repel vampires. Garlic may not be good for vampires, but it may be good for healthier memory as we age. In a recently released study, garlic appears to counteract age-related memory problems…at least in mice. According to Behera and Tyagi (American Physiological Society, 2019), the dietary administration of garlic may help maintain a health gut composition and improved cognition of older adults.

Gut Microbiota
Photo: Medical Express

Our gut has trillions of microorganisms called gut microbiota. These microorganisms appear in abundance in infants (Arboyleya, Watkins, Stanton, & Ross, 2016 ) but decline significantly as we age and with certain diseases (Arboyleya et al.; Vaiserman, Koliada, & Marotta, 2017). Of particular interest to Behera and Tyagi is whether there is some association between late-life gut microbiota and timing of memory disease development, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. When testing use of garlic compounds, the researchers found that there were restorative factors in gut bacteria but also that short- and long-term memory and spatial memory was better compared to mice who did not have access to the garlic compound. While more research is needed as to whether there is cause and effect relationship between gut health’s role in healthy aging, associations between gut health and healthy aging have been found (Arboyleya, et al.; Vaiserman, Koliada, & Marotta).

So to answer this week’s trivia question of whether “gut health” may protect age-related memory loss, the answer is yes. However, the specific association is based on the garlic compound being tested and not just gut health in general. Still, there does appear to be some positive age-healthy relationships with gut health.

Thank you to those who participated in this week’s trivia question!

References:

American Physiological Society (2019). Could eating garlic reduce aging-related memory problems? Experimental Biology. Press release April, 8, 2019. Accessed at
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/eb-ceg032819.php

Arboyleya, S., Watkins, C., Stanton, C., & Ross, R.P. (2016). Gut bifidobacteria populations in human health and aging. Frontiers in Microbiology. Access at
https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fmicb.2016.01204/full April 19, 2019.

Vaiserman, A.M., Koliada, A.K., & Marotta, F. (2017). Gut micorbota: A player in aging and a target for anti-aging intevention. Ageing Research Reviews, 35(May), 36-45.

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