Research into Alzheimer’s and dementia has shown promising results for prevention, and recent insights indicate that protecting your brain could start with what you put on your plate. A new study presented at the 2019 Experiment Biology conference found that consuming garlic may help to counteract age-related problems with memory.
These benefits likely come from allyl sulfide, a compound in garlic thought to be responsible for the bulbs’ potent odor — and it looks like enduring garlic breath might be worth the trouble. The study found that the compound may help prevent age-related memory problems by way of your gut bacteria.
What do your gut bacteria and your brain have to do with one another? Even the study’s authors say that the exact mechanisms of the connection are still unclear and that more research is needed to nail down the specifics.
“The diversity of the gut microbiota is diminished in elderly people, a life stage when neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s develop and memory and cognitive abilities can decline,” said Neetu Tyagi, an associate professor at the University of Louisville School of Medicine and one of the study’s lead authors, in a release. “We want to better understand how changes in the gut microbiota relate to aging-associated cognitive decline.”
The researchers found that mice who consumed a supplement of allyl sulfide had fewer memory problems in old age — and a healthier gut microbiota. They also found that the mice ingesting the garlic compound had higher levels of neuronal-derived natriuretic factor (NDNF) gene expression in their brains, a gene that studies suggest helps to preserve memory. These mice also had lower levels of intestinal inflammation. This kind of inflammation can occur as a result of an unhealthy gut microbiota.
Of course, eating garlic isn’t a cure-all when it comes to preventing memory loss. Your brain needs more than garlic to stay healthy. Here’s what neurologists recommend for better brain health.