Aging is a progressive loss of homeostasis, impaired function, cognitive decline, and vulnerability to death due to chronic, infectious, metabolic, and neoplastic diseases. Therefore, aging gracefully isn’t just about having younger-looking skin. It encompasses the complex processes that affect all our organs, muscles, cells and everything that constitutes our being.
In this context, an essential player emerges: our intestinal microbiota. In simple terms, this refers to the assembly of microscopic inhabitants in our gastrointestinal tract.
The intestinal microbiota and aging
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Debojyoti Dhar, co-founder and director of Leucine Rich Bio, explained: “The gut microbiota, made up of many microorganisms including bacteria, viruses and fungi, plays a role central to various aspects of our lives. health. In addition to facilitating digestion and absorption of nutrients, it significantly influences our immune system. As we journey through life, our gut microbiota evolves and its composition is likely to change.
She explained: “These changes can be influenced by a multitude of factors, such as dietary habits, medication use and lifestyle choices. When the balance of the gut microbiota is disrupted, it can give rise to a state of dysbiosis, in which pathogenic microorganisms may outnumber beneficial microorganisms. In fact, unhealthy aging leads to a steady increase in pathobionts such as Eggerthella, Fusobacteria, Streptococcus, etc. Such an imbalance can contribute to inflammatory and age-related diseases.
Dr. Debojyoti Dhar said, “Inflammation is the phenomenon of chronic low-grade inflammation that occurs in our bodies with advanced age, contributing to a wide range of age-related diseases. This is not just a matter of outward appearance but a deep internal process. Inflammation fuels diseases such as cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, and metabolic diseases including type 2 diabetes. Additionally, it can accelerate the aging process itself by promoting deterioration. tissues and cells, leading to wrinkles, fragility and reduced quality of life.
The role of the intestinal microbiota in inflammation
Highlighting that the link between our gut microbiota and inflammation is increasingly evident, Dr Debojyoti Dhar said: “Dysbiosis in the gut can lead to the release of pro-inflammatory molecules which can infiltrate the blood circulation, thereby perpetuating systemic inflammation. Additionally, compromised intestinal barrier function can make it easier for harmful substances to leak into the bloodstream, thereby intensifying inflammation. Overall, an imbalanced gut microbiome can set the stage for inflammatory and age-related diseases.
Keep an eye on your gut microbiota
According to Dr. Debojyoti Dhar, the good news is that you can exert control over your gut microbiota to promote healthy aging. She suggested the following concrete measures to consider:
- Food choices: Your diet has a profound influence on your intestinal microbiota. Eating a rainbow of plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, can promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. Additionally, incorporating fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut can introduce probiotics that support gut health.
- Prebiotics: Prebiotics, found in foods like garlic, onions and bananas, are indigestible fibers that feed the beneficial microorganisms in your gut. Including them in your diet can boost the population of “good” bacteria.
- Microbiome profiling: One of the most effective ways to understand your gut microbiota is through microbiome profiling, such as that offered by Viome (US) and BugSpeaks (India). This involves a comprehensive analysis of the composition of your gut microorganisms using next-generation sequencing to identify any imbalances or dysbiosis. Based on this knowledge, you can make informed decisions about dietary and lifestyle changes to support a healthier gut.
- Probiotic supplements: In specific cases, probiotic supplements may be beneficial, particularly if you suffer from health conditions requiring healthy microbiota support. However, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional before incorporating supplements into your routine.
- Lifestyle choices: Reducing stress, exercising regularly, and ensuring adequate sleep can have a positive impact on your gut microbiota and overall health. Chronic stress, in particular, can disrupt the balance of your gut bacteria, highlighting the importance of effective stress management techniques.
Dr Debojyoti Dhar concluded: “The concept of inflammation has highlighted the importance of tackling chronic inflammation as we age. If genetics plays a role, our gut microbiota is a key player in this process. By supporting your gut microbiota through dietary choices, prebiotics, microbiome profiling, and lifestyle changes, you can better support healthy aging and potentially reduce the risk of age-related diseases.
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