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Good gut health allows chocolate to sharpen your brain

Earlier this year, you learned how eating polyphenol-rich dark chocolate can benefit your health and why your gut plays an important role in that process.

In fact, the presence of Bifidobacteria, one of 10 beneficial strains contained in EndoMune Advanced Probiotic and EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids), and lactic acid bacteria is the primary reason eating dark chocolate produces healthy, anti-inflammatory compounds.

These same beneficial microbes also create the opportunity for healthy older folks to reverse age-related declines in memory, according to a recent study published by Nature Neuroscience.

An important thing to note: The declines in memory due to age that are being discussed here are far different than those experienced by folks who suffer more serious health challenges due to Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia that destroys neurons throughout the brain.

On the other hand, age-related declines in memory—forgetting a phone number or where you parked a car—usually start in early adulthood, becoming more noticeable as people approach their 50s or 60s.

Scientists at Columbia University Medical Center studied the effects of consuming dietary cocoa flavanols to confirm that age-related declines in memory were located in the portion of the brain known as the dentate gyrus (inside the hippocampus).

For the study, 37 healthy participants ranging in age from 50-69 received either a low flavanol drink (10 mg.) or a high flavanol drink (900 mg.) daily for three months. Before and after the study, patients were given memory tests, and their brains were scanned to measure the amount of blood in and the type of memories controlled by the dentate gyrus.

Patients who were given the high flavanol drink experienced terrific results compared to those receiving the low flavanol mixture.

“If a participant had the memory of a typical 60-year-old at the beginning of the study, after three months, that person on average had the memory of a typical 30- or 40-year-old,” said Dr. Scott Small, according to a press release.

Interestingly, the high flavanol product used in this study, produced by global confectionary manufacturer Mars, isn’t the same as chocolate, which is why researchers caution people not to increase their chocolate intake to replicate the effect.

In fact, attempting to eat that much chocolate rich in epicatechin (a healthy flavanol also found in tea and grapes), you’d have to eat at least 300 grams of dark chocolate a day, amounting to seven average bars.

Also, scientists reported no additional activity in the entorhinal cortex, another region in the hippocampus that’s affected early in the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

For this high flavanol drink to work so well in these experiments, it has to be “processed” by intestinal bacteria so that the active agents are absorbed and work to improve the brain’s ability to retain memories.

The real story “behind” the study: To enjoy these chocolatey benefits, ensure that you have a healthy gut by taking a quality multi-species probiotic like EndoMune Advanced.

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