Age-Related Changes in The Gut Microbiome
As we grow older, we are constantly reminded that ageing is a one-way street. Grey hair and wrinkles are two primary examples of changes that are inevitable, but with careful attention to our diet and lifestyle, we can often slow or reverse some age-related changes in our body.
Unfortunately, digestive issues like diarrhea and constipation also become increasingly problematic as we age. Recent research has demonstrated that digestive issues in the elderly are associated with a shift in the gut microbiome towards less diverse, more pathogenic populations. Notably, a diverse microbial ecosystem can help prevent invasion by harmful bacteria.
What drives the loss of gut diversity in the elderly is not fully understood but changes in diet are likely part of the issue. And these dietary changes may result from a number of different situations that occur as we grow older: Dental issues may alter food preference, adult children leaving the home may lead to smaller meal sizes and changes in how food is prepared, or downsizing and moving into an assisted living facility may force individuals to adapt to institutional meals. Other factors likely also contribute to this transition.
In general, these changes tend to lead to reductions in the amount of fiber in the diet. The importance of dietary fiber is well-know and I previously described the ways in which fiber benefits the body. Specifically, it is the prebiotic component of dietary fiber that determines both the composition and diversity of the gut microbiome. Remember that healthy microbes feed on prebiotics and without sufficient food, these populations decrease. This means fewer health benefits, less energy, and less resistance to harmful bacteria.
While it will not help with grey hair or wrinkles, supplementation with MSPrebiotic® has been shown to increase the diversity of healthy bacteria in the elderly, generating a gut microbiome ecosystem comparable to one found in middle-aged individuals. This effect actually increases the relative abundance of butyrate (a short-chain fatty acid) and reduces the use of stool softeners, demonstrating that this microbiome renewal has beneficial effects.
Whether for yourself or for an elderly family member, choosing to supplement your diet with a prebiotic like MSPrebiotic® can renew the gut microbiome and prevent age-associated digestive issues. This simple, non-pharmaceutical approach is clinically demonstrated and is an easy step to add to your daily routine.