Fibre, not fast cars, the answer to middle age

16 May 2019
Fruits and vegetables promotes growth of beneficial microbes in the gut

Research from scientists at the APC Microbiome Ireland in University College Cork, has shown that your diet, in particular fibre, may have a positive influence on the brain ageing and function for middle aged men.

“We wanted to see whether an inulin, or a starchy substance, enriched diet, could improve brain health and wellbeing in middle age” says Professor Cryan, leader of this research at the world-leading SFI Research Centre.

Tests were conducted on middle-aged male mice, and the results were promising. “The community of microbes in the gut changes with ageing.  Many studies in ageing focus on very old animals and this may be too late to reverse the age-associated changes. We chose middle age animals in the hope that we could promote healthy ageing” stated Professor Cryan.

Reversing effect observed in a key region of the brain

Microglia are the major immune cells in the brain and have shown to be a key player in neuropsychological and neurodegenerative conditions. “This research is showing that a diet supplemented with prebiotics, reversed microglia activation in the middle- aged mouse brain towards young adult levels. Moreover, this reversing effect was observed in a key region of the brain which regulates learning and memory, the hippocampus” says Dr. Marcus Boehme, co-author of the research.

The new research suggests that prebiotic dietary fibres could be developed as a new strategy to promote healthy ageing by protecting brain function and prevent the adverse effects of age-related neuroinflammation. 

The study led by Professor John F. Cryan, Professor Ted Dinan, Dr. Harriet Schellekens and Dr. Marcus Boehme is published in the leading journal Molecular Psychiatry. This research was supported by the Science Foundation Ireland Centre grant to the APC Microbiome Ireland and the European-wide JPI-HDHL-NutriCog project ‘AMBROSIAC’.

For more on this story contact:

Professor John Cryan - or Dr Catherine Buckley, Communications & Outreach Manager, APC Microbiome Ireland -

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