Diet, Gut Bacteria and Health Link Found

New research from a team of scientist from University College Cork (UCC) and An Teagasc Food Research Centre has been published in the journal Nature. The research shows a link between the Diet of older Irish people, their Gut Bacteria and their overall health. The research was funded by the Department of Agriculture who say that such research can help provide exciting new opportunities for the Irish food industry in the development of foods that help to promote healthier aging.

The gut contains many different symbiotic bacteria which help to build our immune system in early life and the maintenance of health in adult life. Changes in our gut's bacteria have been linked to inflammatory and metabolic disorders such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and obesity.

Dr. Paul O'Toole from UCC explains that As we get older, we may experience deterioration in our dental health, salivary function and digestion, and this can also affect the good bacteria that live in our gut. Some of these changes are out of our control, but we can control our diet. However, until now, links between diet, gut microbiota composition and health in large human studies were unclear"

The research team carried out the study on 178 older people living in the south of Ireland. Information on diet, physical activity, immune function, and cognitive function was collected along with measurements of microbiota composition taken from faecal matter. It was found that the composition of such microbiota positively and negatively impacted on the health of older people.

Dr O'Toole explains; "The healthiest people live in a community setting, eat differently and have a distinct microbiota compared to those in long-term residential care. It can be inferred from findings related to increased inflammation and increased frailty, that there is a diet-microbiota link to these indicators of accelerated ageing".