In a recent microbiota study conducted in humans, researchers have shown a significant correlation between healthy aging and a healthy gut as compared to younger microbiota. In this blog-article, i will first examine the substance of these findings (Section A) and then compare them with other former studies from which this one derived.(Section B). Thereafter, I will discuss a few implications that this and other studies inspire. (Section C).
Microbiota & Gut Diversity
This microbiota longevity Study was published last September 2017, in the journal mSphere (1). The Chinese researchers from this study found was a significant correlation between the gut microbiota of healthy elderly up to 100 years old and the gut microbiota of healthy 30 year olds.
In conjunction with the China-Canada Institute, Western University, Lawson Health Research Institute and Tianyi Health Science Institute in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China, the researchers studied the gut bacteria in a cohort of more than 1,000 Chinese individuals in a variety of age-ranges from 3 to over 100 years-old who were self-selected to be very healthy with no known health issues and no family history of disease. The results showed a direct correlation between health and the microbes in the intestine.
“Our analysis showed several surprising results compared to other cohorts. First, the overall microbiota composition of the healthy aged group was similar to that of people decades younger. Second, the major differences between groups in the gut microbiota profiles were found before age 20. Third, the gut microbiota differed little between individuals from the ages of 30 to >100. Fourth, the gut microbiota of males appeared to be more variable than that of females. Taken together, the present findings suggest that the microbiota of the healthy aged in this cross-sectional study differ little from that of the healthy young in the same population, although the minor variations that do exist depend upon the comparison cohort”. (2)
Microbiota and Longevity Studies in Perspective
Past studies have shown a contrario that the composition of the microbiota in elders is considerably different from that of younger adults. In this perspective, for example, a very low abundance of phylum Firmicutes and an overall low diversity were detected in elderly subjects. (3) Low diversity has been found to be associated with increased health risks. (4) Another study has reported significantly higher abundance of Bacteroidetes, and lower abundance of Clostridium cluster IV in elders compared to younger subjects.(5)
Top: Lactobacillus (sp 01): Public Domain (CDC)
Discussion & Implications
Given the past studies between the elderly and younger microbiota, this new study that showed similarity between elderly and younger microbiota proves that an elder’s microbiota is controllable by lifestyle change. In other words, an imbalanced and frail microbiota is not necessarily part of the aging process (ie, today’s dogma).
Thus, from the viewpoint of holistic medicine, this is a great finding because we can use the. quality and the diversity of microbiota as a biomarker and a diagnostic tool to determine who is healthy and less healthy and then prescribe simple diverse cultured foods, probiotics and prebiotics to improve this marker of health and longevity.
The major study’s limitation is based on the fact that its findings are not causative. In other words, a healthy diverse microbiota leading to healthy old age has not been proven, only associated. Common sense and past studies however allow us to infer that eating well and being deligent in feeding our microbiota are keys to the optimization of a healthy longevity process. Because it has also been shown that diverse cultured foods and probiotics boosts longevity, it can thus be reasonably deduced that healthy microbiota is one of many other variables for the enhancement of optimal longevity. (6)
On the other hand, in some of these microbiota studies, there is the variable of antibiotics that may not have been taking into consideration with sufficient diligence. In a young group that takes antibiotics versus an elderly group that does not, one could assume that the elder’s microbiota would be in better shape. (7) I have not as of yet seen any hard evidence of this assumption, but up to now, it is reasonable to make it, if only to better target our future microbiota Research work.
The Study’s results suggest that for people who live to be 100 and in perfect health in China, their microbiota will likely appear to be relatively similar to a person in his-her mid-30s. This study has not proven whether this is cause or effect. But it does suggest that resetting an elderly microbiota to that of a 30-year-old individual would promote wellbeing and longevity.
For the elderly who do not adopt a holistic-happiness lifestyle, the process of immunosenescence accelerates to such a degree that chronic low-grade inflammatory in the gut is a quasi-permanent feature, because of which unfavorable changes in the composition and structure of the gut microbiota in older people quicken their ultimate demise. This Chinese study also strengthens the proof that in healthy nonagenarians and centenarians, the microbiota is a key player insofar as optimized longevity and wellbeing are concerned.
(1). 1Gaorui Bian, Gregory B. Gloor, Aihua Gong, Changsheng Jia, Wei Zhang, Jun Hu, Hong Zhang, Yumei Zhang, Zhenqing Zhou, Jiangao Zhang, Jeremy P. Burton, Gregor Reid, Yongliang Xiao, Qiang Zeng, Kaiping Yang, Jiangang Li. The Gut Microbiota of Healthy Aged Chinese Is Similar to That of the Healthy Young. mSphere, 2017; 2 (5): e00327-17 DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00327-171Gaorui Bian, Gregory B. Gloor, Aihua Gong, Changsheng Jia, Wei Zhang, Jun Hu, Hong Zhang, Yumei Zhang, Zhenqing Zhou, Jiangao Zhang, Jeremy P. Burton, Gregor Reid, Yongliang Xiao, Qiang Zeng, Kaiping Yang, Jiangang Li. The Gut Microbiota of Healthy Aged Chinese Is Similar to That of the Healthy Young. mSphere, 2017; 2 (5): e00327-17 DOI: 10.1128/mSphere.00327-17
(3). Li M, Wang B, Zhang M, Rantalainen M, Wang S, Zhou H, et al, Symbiotic gut microbes modulate human metabolic phenotypes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. (2008) ;105: (6):2117–2122. See also Duncan SH , Lobley GE , Holtrop G , Ince J , Johnstone AM , Louis P , et al. Human colonic microbiota associated with diet, obesity and weight loss. Int J Obes (Lond). (2008) ;32: (11):1720–4. See also, Andersson AF , Lindberg M , Jakobsson H , Bäckhed F , Nyräen P , Engstrand L . Comparative analysis of human gut microbiota by barcoded pyrosequencing. PLoS One [Internet]. (2008) ;3: (7):e2836. Available from: http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?eid=2-s2.0-523&partnerID=tZOtx3y1. And this one: Gill SR , Pop M , Deboy RT , Eckburg PB , Turnbaugh PJ , Samuel BS , et al. Metagenomic Analysis of the Human Distal Gut Microbiome (2006) ;312: (June):1355–1360. See also: Eckburg PB , Bik EM , Bernstein CN , Purdom E , Dethlefsen L , Sargent M , et al. Diversity of the human intestinal microbial flora. Science. (2006) ;308: (5728):1635–1638. .
(4). Shoaie S , Ghaffari P , Kovatcheva-Datchary P , Mardinoglu A , Sen P , Pujos-Guillot E , et al. Quantifying diet-induced metabolic changes of the human gut microbiome. Cell Metab [Internet]. (2006) ;22: (2):320–331. Available from:http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S.
(5). Zwielehner J , Liszt K , Handschur M , Lassl C , Lapin A , Haslberger AG . Combined PCR-DGGE fingerprinting and quantitative-PCR indicates shifts in fecal population sizes and diversity of Bacteroides, bifidobacteria and Clostridium cluster IV in institutionalized elderly. Exp Gerontol [Internet]. Elsevier Inc. (2009) ;44: (6-7):440–446. Available from: http://linkinghub.elsevier.com/retrieve/pii/S.
(6). In actuality, we can even do better than this study in terms of optimizing diverse healthy microbiota. Instead of using a healthy population of 30 year old healthy individuals, we could use latest research on the microbiota that is looking at the best and most diverse forms of gut microbiota that promote health and longevity. There are thousands of different bacterial species in the gut, some are more important than others. Therefore, by selecting what recent Research has dermine to be the best longevity and health microbiota, we could foster the intestinal conditions to promote even more health and longevity.
(7). Bartosch S , Fite A , Macfarlane GT , Mcmurdo MET . Characterization of bacterial communities in feces from healthy elderly volunteers and hospitalized elderly patients by using real-time PCR and effects of antibiotic treatment on the fecal microbiota characterization of bacterial communities in feces from. Appl Environ Microbiol. (2004) ;70: (6):3575–81.