Trillions of bacteria, which are either beneficial or harmful, live in a person's gut. Maintaining the proper balance between these types of bacteria is important due to their many health implications. Functions of the gut microbiome include digestion, vitamin production, and immune response. Before a person is born, their gut is like a blank slate without any bacteria present. Bacteria will start to colonize the gut once the person becomes exposed to the environment. Since the gut microbiota starts from nothing, it is important to get as much beneficial bacteria as possible through probiotics.
In this study, the researchers determined the correlation between gut bacteria and aging using mice as model organisms. They transplanted gut bacteria from elderly mice to young germ-free mice. The elderly mice that they used all exhibited a condition called inflammaging, wherein there is age-related chronic inflammation. Elderly people experiencing inflammaging are found have a higher risk for cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer.
The effects of the transplanted gut bacteria on young mice were determined based on immune responses of the lymph nodes, spleen, and small intestine. Additionally, gene expression was also evaluated in the small intestine. From these, the researchers observed that the young mice started to resemble older mice, showing that there is a connection between inflammaging and the composition of the gut microbiome.
This connection can be explained by differences in gut microbiota composition of the elderly compared to those that are younger. In the elderly, there is an imbalance in the gut bacteria that favors bad bacteria over the good. This leads to an increased permeability of the gut lining, which is known as “leaky gut.” Reduced gut permeability allows toxins into the bloodstream, which aggravates the immune system. Aside from this, the toxins can also cause diabetes, obesity, cancer, and autism.
There are many factors that could be attributed for the imbalanced gut microbiota in the elderly. These include the use of antibiotics, lack of physical activity, and an unhealthy diet. For a diet to be beneficial to the gut microbiome, it is important to include probiotics and fiber-rich foods. It is important to take care of the gut microbiome so that, in return, they will also take care of you of when you're older. (Related: How do you get to be a “ridiculously healthy” senior citizen? Take care of your gut — research has linked gut health to healthy aging.)
Take good care of your gut by incorporating these delicious probiotic foods into your diet:
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