Longevity & Healthy Ageing: Is Our Microbiome The Answer?
Age-related diseases and conditions, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, are thought to be accompanied by imbalances in our gut microbiome. In this article, we will explore the connection between our gut microbiome and healthy aging.
“Inflammaging” and Immunosenescence
There is a theory called “inflammaging” that suggests that it is immune dysfunction that contributes to chronic inflammation in the body and results in age-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, cancer, and Parkinson’s. As we grow older, our body goes through several lifestyle, environmental, and genetic changes. In particular, our immune system starts to deteriorate in our later years, as a result of changes in the levels of inflammatory cytokines and immune cell activities. There is ongoing research to determine whether changes in our gut microbiome and “inflammaging” are connected.
Age-related diseases and conditions: Are our gut microbiome involved?
Similar to our human cells, our microbiome will decline in diversity and become imbalanced with age, also known as dysbiosis. Our microbiome plays a crucial role in training, developing, and regulating adaptive and innate immunity. A well-balanced and diverse microbiome protects our gut lining’s epithelial cells, minimising inflammation. Whereas a dysbiotic microbiome affects our intestinal barrier’s integrity, allowing low-grade systemic inflammation to take place.
What results in age-related dysbiosis?
Besides affecting our immune system, ageing affects our gastrointestinal tract physiologically, such as reducing mucus production, weakening the gut barrier, and slowing gut motility. All these can change the living condition in our gut, affecting our microbiome diversity. Environmental changes and common medications can also cause age-related dysbiosis. For example, medications like antibiotics can affect our microbiome diversity, destroying both good and bad bacteria, and precluding the development of commensal bacteria.
Top tips to fight age-related dysbiosis
There are many steps you can adopt to boost your microbiome diversity, alleviate age-related dysbiosis, and feed beneficial gut bacteria, such as:
1. Consume plenty of fibre
Fibre improves bowel movement, is a source of food for beneficial gut bacteria, and helps to regulate blood sugar. It is recommended that you consume up to 30g of fibre daily. However, it does not hurt to consume more. Food broccoli, avocados, and whole grains are rich in fibre. You might also want to consider consuming ginger, bananas, and garlic which are high in prebiotics and helps to nourish your gut lining.
2. Taste the rainbow
We are not talking about skittles, but vegetables and fruits of every colour. Each colour consists of various phytonutrients, which have different benefits for your gut as well as overall health. Hence, the more colourful your meal is, the better your health will be.
3. Avoid antibiotics unless they are really required
Most antibiotics that are prescribed by your doctor are broad-spectrum and will affect both good and bad bacteria, causing significant collateral damage and reducing microbiome diversity. The void in the affected microbiome diversity means that opportunistic bacteria can grow and multiply. Hence, you might experience diarrhoea symptoms or vomiting symptoms after consuming antibiotics. Therefore, it is vital to be wise in using antibiotics. Always consult a doctor before taking them.
4. Stay active
Active individuals tend to develop a more diverse microbiome. You do not need to be running a full marathon to enjoy such benefits. A simple stroll in the park or gardening in your backyard or balcony are some ways you can get your heart pumping enough for a healthier gut.
Is our gut microbiome the answer to longevity and health?
While it has not been proven that our gut microbiome is the answer to longevity and health, many researchers have found that there are differences in the gut microbiome of healthy older adults compared to their less-healthy counterparts, suggesting that our gut microbiome may play an important role in longevity and health. Maintaining a healthy and diverse gut microbiome, especially in our later life, helps us to adapt to age-related changes.
All of which can easily be achieved with a well-balanced diet, lots of exercise, and regular gastroenterology visits. If you are looking to improve the diversity of your gut microbiome and reap the health benefits, then look no further than GUTCARE, a digestive care specialist.
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