Posted on Feb 26, 2019, 10 p.m.
Composition of gut bacteria affects health, evidence supporting this continues to increase including this study finding that gut imbalances causes chronic inflammation in older people which can lead to a variety of age related diseases, as published in the journal Frontiers in Immunology.
Wanting to determine the relationships between gut microbiota and the immune system University Medical Center Groningen researchers conducted this study on old and young mice. Gut microbiota was transferred from older mice to bodies of younger mice, as well as transplanting gut bacteria from the younger mice to another group of even younger mice; immune responses were observed in the animal’s lymph nodes, spleens, and tissues in their small intestines. Chronic inflammation was observed to develop in the younger mice, similar to how it would have as they grew older; but young mice transplanted with gut bacteria from younger mice did not develop inflammation.
Studies have shown older people have different gut bacteria composition compared to younger people, and low grade chronic systemic inflammation is known to occur among the elderly because they have weaker immune systems compared to younger people. The gut is inhibited by a large number of bacteria, and there are many different kinds of bacterial species, of which bacterial species present can vary greatly from person to person.
Reasons why gut bacteria composition differs among older people is not clear, antibiotics may affect the digestive system, but changes in gut microbiota is not caused by just one factor, rather a combination of many such as stress, diet, physical activity, and natural processes. The team noted that further research is needed in humans to confirm their results.
Leading a healthy lifestyle is recommended by the team to be essential to having healthy gut composition, and strategies that alter gut microbiota composition in the elderly may reduce inflammaging and promote health aging, according to Floris Fransen.
Inflammation is a natural response from the immune system to fight off infections, toxins, and injuries: Inflammatory cells are called upon by the immune system to fight threatening substances or to heal tissue, the process causes inflammation which is characterized by redness, pain, and swelling. Excess inflammation causes many health conditions as when a body part is inflamed it is damaged and healing or damaged and deteriorating. Inflammation occurring for a long time is not good, and can result from failure to fight off whatever was causing the acute inflammation exposure to a low level of a particular irritant; when this occurs the immune system becomes overloaded and will attack normal healthy tissue, mistaking it for toxic pathogens.
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