If you are looking for more reason to support you gut (and I am sure you are) then how does health aging sound?
Canadian and Chinese researchers have found a link between the quality and quantity of gut bacteria and how well we age. Looking at 1000 Chinese participants, researchers found that healthy centenarians had a similar quality and quantity of gut bacteria as healthy 30 year-old youngsters.
In other research, the gut of 178 elderly patients were examined and found to differ depending on where they lived. Those in long-term care facilities were compared to elderly living in the general community. They found not only differences the quality and quantity of bacteria but there was a correlation with the fragility of the individuals. In other words, long term care facilities are not the best place to maintain gut microbiota and may be increasing physical deterioration.
Why may this be the case? Two things. The first is that the long-term care facilities reduce the exposure of the people to other people and germs which we now know may lower the development of a robust microbiota, essential for maintaining function in the body.
The second is the quality of the diet in a long-term facility. Food in these facilities are notoriously bad, lacking in variety and quality of nutrients. These two factors are essential for promoting quantity and diversity of our gut bacteria.
The good news? We can take steps now to help the bacteria in our gut to thrive.
- Eat a variety of fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy products and vegetables – don’t get stuck on eating just your favourites
- Make an effort to try new foods especially if they are prebiotic to help feed the gut bacteria
- Consume fermented foods to help the gut function more effectively
- Don’t be afraid of being exposed to other people and potential bacteria in the community
ie: Don’t sanitize the shopping cart in the grocery store
- Get proper regular sleep and be sure to exercise – your gut microbes love sleep and exercise (as long as it is not to excessive)
- Lower stress – high cortisol levels alter gut compostion.
Science still does not have all the answers but that doesn’t mean we can’t be proactive and do positive steps to help ourselves now.
Gut microbiota composition correlates with diet and health in the elderly, Marcus J. Claesson1,2*et al, doi:10.1038/nature11319
The Gut Microbiota of Healthy Aged Chinese Is Similar to That of the Healthy Young
Gaorui Bian et al, DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00327-17
Linking the Gut Microbial Ecosystem with the Environment: Does Gut Health Depend on Where We Live? Nishat Tasnim et al, Front. Microbiol., 06 October 2017
Dietary effects on human gut microbiome diversity
Zhenjiang Xu et al, Br J Nutr. 2015 Jan; 113(Suppl 0 ): S1–S5.