Kent State Researchers to Study the Effects of Probiotics on Brain Health

University partners with i-Health and Stow-Glen Retirement Village

Kent State University, in partnership with the Stow-Glen Retirement Village in Stow, Ohio, recently received an industry-funded grant of $430,000 from i-Health Inc., 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.

Photo of John GunstadJohn 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 said. “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 said.  

“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with Kent State on this study,” said 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 said.

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 said.

For more information about Kent State’s Department of Psychological Sciences, visit www.kent.edu/psychology.

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Photo Caption:
John Gunstad, Ph.D., a professor in Kent State University’s Department of Psychological Science, is leading a team of researchers to examine whether taking a probiotic dietary supplement can improve the mood and memory of middle-aged and older adults.

Media Contacts:
Jim Maxwell, jmaxwel2@kent.edu, 330-672-8028
Emily Vincent, evincen2@kent.edu, 330-672-8595