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Gut Microbiota & Aging

December 7, 2015

Changes in diet and lifestyle as we age may affect the microbes living in our gut, and consequently, our health.


Elderly couple, Paris 207335658_e92d379c2c_b John CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 via flickr

Elderly couple, Paris. (John, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0, via flickr)


Aging and our gut microbes. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Our gut microbiota – the collection of all the bacteria and other microbes that live inside our digestive tract – help keep us healthy throughout our lives. But University College Cork molecular microbiologist Paul O’Toole writes in Science magazine that changes to diet and lifestyle as we age may compromise the ability of our microbiota to do their job, leading to inflammation and frailty.

PAUL O’TOOLE (University College Cork):

One of the biggest modifiers to the microbiota is the diet. Another feature of aging is less mobility. If you don’t get much exercise, your intestines slow down and that changes the dynamics of the way the bacteria interact.


O’Toole says medications may also play a role. He and his colleagues are currently conducting studies to find out whether a diverse diet could help maintain the gut microbiota and health into old age. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Susanne Bard