Jan 10 2016

Understanding how we age – Inflammaging

Published by at 12:51 pm under probiotic supplements

Does our gut change as we age?
Researchers have identified a key factor that leads to changes in the gut and our immune response as we age and are exploring how to control “inflammaging.”

Our microbiome is an ever changing community of bacteria. It changes for different reasons…antibiotic use, diet, illness and age. That is why it is so important to keep your gut healthy at every age and take the necessary steps to work with the ebbs and flows of our lives. One consistent rule of thumb is to aim to keep your gut’s microbiome consisting of approximately 80% friendly bacteria to a 20% unfriendly bacteria ratio for optimal gut health.1*

As we age, different factors can affect the health of our microbiome, our digestive system and our immune response as a whole. “…Nearly 40% of older adults have one or more age-related digestive symptom each year…”1*But what causes these changes? Taking a closer look at the aging gut and what the underlying factors are to its changes was the focus of scientists at the Institute of Food Research and the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School in collaboration with scientists at the University of Siena, Italy.2*

“…As well as digesting food, the gut plays a central role in programming our immune system, and provides an effective barrier to bacteria that could make us ill. In particular, immune cells that line the gut work to maintain the integrity of the barrier, as well as maintaining a balance that provides a healthy environment for beneficial bacteria, but reacts to combat invasion by pathogenic microbes…”2*

As we age, the immune system weakens. This makes us more vulnerable to infections and increases our risk for diseases. Until just recently, researchers have not known how alterations in the gut barrier’s structure along with the function of the gut contribute to this health issue. 2*

Professor Claudio Nicoletti from the Institute of Food Research and Professor Alastair Watson from IFR and the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School, in collaboration with scientists at the University of Siena, Italy wanted to take a closer look at his issue. They took samples from healthy volunteers and studied them, then compared samples from people of different ages who were undergoing routine endoscopy examinations.. They discovered that “…the aging gut had a characteristic increase in one specific immune system regulator called interleukin 6 (IL-6). Cells of the immune system release IL-6 to trigger inflammation. Chronic low-grade inflammation is seen to increase as we age…”2*

“…”Inflammation is increasingly being seen as a key event behind aging, and our results suggest a pivotal role for the gut in this ‘inflammaging’ ” process said Prof. Nicoletti…”2*

“…”It is vital we develop ways of controlling inflammaging as a way of preventing bowel cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, heart disease, diabetes and depression” added Professor Watson…”2*

Additionally, they found that “…aging is associated with a reduced immune response to microbes which might contribute to our increased susceptibility to infection as we age.”2 They also found that increased levels of IL-6 directly lead to a “leaky” gut barrier. Though physical differences in the structure were not seen, it was susceptible to small, soluble molecules leaking through.2*

The researchers’ next steps are to identify what triggers these changes in gut permeability, immune response and IL-6. They now understand that the profile of microbes colonizing the gut along with how they interact with the gut lining , the cells of the immune system (including the cells that release IL-6), change as people age. “…Over the next few years in Norwich we shall be working on ways to prevent this breakdown of the barrier in the intestine and prevent many of the diseases of old age…”2*

“…”Understanding the triggers will help us better understand what caused the changes observed in this study, and find ways of preventing them,” said Prof. Nicoletti. “If the gut bacteria are implicated in this, it opens up the possibility that we can manipulate these through probiotics, as a way of keeping us healthy as we get older…”2*

Advancements in science continue to demonstrate the importance of a maintaining a healthy gut in order to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. Systemic immune responses are all related to the health of the gut, so we continue to encourage you to take the steps you need to keep your gut and your body healthy. Part of this is taking your BODY BIOTICSâ„¢ BIO IDENTICAL SBO PROBIOTICS CONSORTIAâ„¢ daily. Maintaining a healthy microbiome is more and more proving to be the ultimate key to better health.*

Next week we will talk specifically about some of the digestive issues that affect us as we age and how to stay on the healthy side of these issues.  

Healthiest wishes,





  1. http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/features/digestive-health-aging
  2. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150521095018.htm
  3. https://www.nbi.ac.uk/

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