Why probiotics are needed for disease prevention as we age
(NaturalHealth365) Evidence of the importance of gut bacteria for immune system health and disease prevention has been presented in study after study, for years! Yet, we see the value of probiotics for gut health often overlooked.
Now, research out of University Medical Center Groningen, The Netherlands is connecting probiotics and ideal gut bacteria balance to healthy aging and disease prevention.
The researchers examined the effects of “inflammaging” – which refers to the chronic inflammation often experienced by the elderly. This low-grade chronic inflammation can often set the stage for serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease, stroke, dementia and cancer.
Elderly found to have a different gut bacteria composition
For the study, the researchers used a technique which involved transferring gut bacteria cultures from elderly mice to younger mice and monitoring its effects. The older mice all showed signs of the chronic inflammatory condition known to be so harmful to health in older age.
At the outset of the study, the young mice were healthy and germ-free. After the transfer of the older mice’s gut bacteria, the younger animals were monitored and tested for immune system responses in their lymph nodes, spleen and small intestine tissues. They were also tested for gene expression in the small intestine.
It was found that these markers eventually resembled those of older mice, even though the mice tested were not yet elderly. The results show a connection between the composition of the gut microbiome and inflammaging – which can easily lead to a wide range of health problems.
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Probiotics and gut bacteria balance are crucial to disease prevention
Imbalances in the gut microbiome can result in too many bad bacteria versus good. An overabundance of bad bacteria can affect the lining of the gut and actually make it more permeable – this is referred to as a “leaky gut.”
A leaky gut in turn can allow toxins to enter the bloodstream and bring a range of negative effects to the body. In addition to taxing the immune system, these toxins can cause or exacerbate inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, obesity and even cancer, autism and anxiety.
The researchers hope this information will lead to simple and straightforward strategies for healthy aging and reducing the inflammation that can set the stage for so many different diseases.
Many thanks to the journal Frontiers in Immunology for publishing this scientific research.
Probiotics found in many natural foods
No doubt, a healthy diet that includes probiotics and prebiotics is key to a healthy gut microbiome.
In terms of medications: antibiotics should be used sparingly – since they can destroy gut bacteria over time. Older individuals typically have a different combination of gut bacteria than younger people, leading to specialized needs in these areas.
The researchers hope that further studies can yield more specifics about the best course of probiotics for the elderly. Meanwhile, eating probiotic foods including miso, kefir, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut, kimchi and pickles, kombucha tea and tempeh can certainly have positive effects.
And, finally, (if digestive issues don’t prohibit you) eating plenty of fiber-rich foods can keep your digestive system running smooth. Bottom line: keep your gut healthy for a sound body and mind.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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