Cheap new supplement boosts memory in weeks and 'unlocks secret' to living longer

Supplement on a table

A daily fibre supplement could help improve brain function in over 60-year-olds, new research suggests

Getty Images
Adam Chapman

By Adam Chapman

Published: 12/03/2024

- 17:48

The over-the-counter supplement promotes healthy bacteria in the gut, which in turn benefits the brain

Taking a daily fibre supplement has been shown to boost brain function in older adults in just 12 weeks, paving the way for a new weapon in the fight against dementia.

The study showed that the simple and cheap addition of prebiotics – plant fibres that help healthy bacteria grow in your gut – to diet can improve performance in memory tests associated with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

However, the supplements – inulin and Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) – were found to have no effect on muscle strength over the three months.

First author Dr Mary Ni Lochlainn from King’s College London, said: “We are excited to see these changes in just 12 weeks.

taking supplements

The over-the-counter supplement holds 'huge promise' for enhancing brain health and memory


“This holds huge promise for enhancing brain health and memory in our ageing population.

“Unlocking the secrets of the gut-brain axis could offer new approaches for living more healthily for longer.”

Researchers at TwinsUK, the UK’s largest adult twin registry based at King’s College London, looked at how targeting the microbiota – the microorganisms in the intestines – could have an impact upon both muscle health and brain function.

Thirty-six twin pairs – 72 people – over the age of 60 years were given either sachets of a dummy supplement or the actual supplement every day for 12 weeks.

Everyone in the study also carried out resistance exercises and ate a protein supplement which was aimed at improving muscle function.

After monitoring the group remotely via video, online questionnaires and cognitive tests, researchers found the fibresupplement led to significant changes in the constitution of a person’s gut microbiome (bacteria).

According to the study, published in Nature Communications, there was a particular increase in the numbers of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacterium.

The group receiving the fibresupplement did better in brain function tests, including the Paired Associates Learning test which is an early marker for Alzheimer’s disease, together with tests of reaction time and processing speed.

Couple smiling looking out the window

Unlocking the secrets of the gut-brain axis could pave the way to living longer, researchers say

Getty Images

Researchers suggest these measures are important for everyday activities like reacting to traffic or stopping a simple trip-up turning into a fall.

Senior author Claire Steves, Professor of Ageing and Health at King’s College London, said: “These plant fibres, which are cheap and available over the counter, could benefit a wide group of people in these cash-strapped times.

“They are safe and acceptable too. Our next task is to see whether these effects are sustained over longer periods and in larger groups of people.”

It comes after a 'miracle' supplement was recently found to improve memory, life expectancy and eyesight.

You may like