Kent State Researchers Partner with i-Health and Stow-Glen Retirement Village | e-Inside | Kent State University

Kent State Researchers Partner with i-Health and Stow-Glen Retirement Village

Study may reveal positive brain health effects of probiotics

Kent State University, in partnership with the Stow-Glen Retirement Village, recently received an industry-funded grant of $430,000 from i-Health (a subsidiary of DSM Nutritional Products) to examine whether taking a probiotic dietary supplement, commonly sold over the counter, can improve the mood and memory of middle-aged and older adults.

John Gunstad, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Kent State, is leading a team of researchers on the yearlong project, which started this past month. The research, focused on the emotional psychological status or “wellbeing” and cognitive function of aging adults, will take place at Stow-Glen Retirement Village and Kent State.

“Probiotics are well known to help with gastrointestinal problems, and some early research suggests that it might help people lose weight or even manage their type 2 diabetes,” Gunstad says. “These changes take place in complex systems within the body that are important for brain health.”

Gunstad and his team are excited about the opportunity to engage with the community and work with participants from the Stow-Glen Retirement Village and move their work “from the lab into the real world”.

“Stow-Glen is a vibrant and very active community, interested in new ways to promote healthy aging, so this provides a perfect opportunity for lifelong learning for the people who take part in the study,” Gunstad says.  

“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Kent State on this study,” says Tammy Denton, CEO of Stow-Glen. “We are already well aware of the benefits of probiotics for gastrointestinal health because many of our residents use probiotics. We think the results of this study will help understand cognitive behaviors as we age.”

The industry partner, i-Health, Inc., has a history of highly innovative research and markets a unique strain of probiotics, Lactobacillus GG, which has been studied for more than 25 years in more than 1,000 studies.

“They (i-Health, Inc.) provide complementary expertise to our research team, making for a strong collaborative partnership,” Gunstad says.

Recruitment for the study is currently open, and anyone interested in learning more or taking part in the study is encouraged to contact the research team at 330-269-9906 or KentStateNeuro@gmail.com.

Gunstad hopes this project will be the first of many to identify things that people can do as part of their everyday life to help improve their mood and memory as they get older. 

“There is exciting new research on the ways that exercise and certain foods can lead to better brain health, and our hope is to better understand ways to prevent conditions like Alzheimer’s disease or stroke,” Gunstad says.