Preventing adolescent stress-induced cognitive and microbiome changes by diet

Research Highlight

Dietary supplements protect adolescent brain from stress

© Scott Tilley/Getty

© Scott Tilley/Getty

Healthy nutrition during adolescence can help guard against the negative effects of chronic stress on brain development.

That’s the conclusion of a rodent study conducted in part by University College Cork scientists. They showed that feeding juvenile rats a diet supplemented with omega−3 fatty acids and vitamin A helped preserve the animals’ cognitive abilities despite exposure to social stress.

Stressed rats fed the enriched diet maintained normal levels of a protective protein in the brain and sustained a healthy community of microbes in the gut. And stressed rats given the nutritional supplements also performed just as well on memory tests as non-stressed rats that ate a standard diet.

The finding highlights the potential of dietary interventions for brain health in children exposed to stressful upbringings.

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  1. PNAS USA 116, 9644–9651 (2019). doi: 10.1073/pnas.1820832116
Institutions Share
Department of Health Sciences (DSS), UNIFI, Italy 0.25
Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark, Ireland 0.21
APC Microbiome Institute, UCC, Ireland 0.18
Department of Neuroscience, Psychology, Pharmacology and Child Health (NEUROFARBA), UNIFI, Italy 0.14
Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience, UCC, Ireland 0.11
Memory Center, PUCRS, Brazil 0.06
National Institute for Translational Neuroscience, Brazil 0.02
National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq), MCTIC, Brazil 0.02