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Infant formula with prebiotics could enhance brain chemistry, improve learning and memory


A team from the University of Illinois concluded that prebiotics added to infant formula can improve memory and brain development in babies. Their research, which was published in Nutritional Neuroscience, explained how dietary polydextrose and galactooligosaccharide can increase exploratory behavior, recognition memory, and neurochemistry in young pigs.

  • Polydextrose (PDX) is a synthetic carbohydrate with prebiotic activity. Galactooligosacchardide (GOS), on the other hand, is a naturally occurring prebiotic.
  • Pigs were used instead of mice or rats because pigs’ digestive systems and behavioral responses are more similar to humans.
  • Scientists gave two-day-old piglets a cow’s milk-based infant formula supplemented with PDX and GOS and tested them for learning, memory, and stress response when they were 25 days old. Blood, brain, and intestinal tissues were analyzed at their 33-day-old mark.
  • Piglets who took the PDX-GOS infant supplement displayed more “curious” behavior than those who did not. This was described as piglets who spent more time playing with new objects.
  • The volatile fatty acids (VFAs), which are metabolic end-products, of the pigs supplemented with PDX and GOS were also higher.
  • This is indicative of the prebiotics influencing the overall population of bacteria in the gut.
  • There is evidence that VFAs affect mood and behavior.

The authors caution that more research needs to be made before a publicly distributed infant supplement can be marketed.

Journal Reference

Stephen A. Fleming, Supida Monaikul, Alexander J. Patsavas, Rosaline V. Waworuntu, Brian M. Berg, Ryan N. Dilger. DIETARY POLYDEXTROSE AND GALACTOOLIGOSACCHARIDE INCREASE EXPLORATORY BEHAVIOR, IMPROVE RECOGNITION MEMORY, AND ALTER NEUROCHEMISTRY IN THE YOUNG PIG, Nutritional Neuroscience, 2017. 1 DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/1028415X.2017.1415280

 

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