Ridiculously Healthy Elderly

Posted On: November 10, 2017


By Ross Pelton, RPh, PhD, CCN

Professor Greg Gloor, the lead author in one of the most extensive microbiome studies ever conducted in humans, stated, “The main conclusion from our study is that if you are ridiculously healthy and ninety years old, your gut microbiota is not that different from a healthy 30-year old in the same population.

To conduct this study, the researchers studied samples of gut bacteria from more than 1,000 Chinese individuals ranging in age from 3 to over 100 years old. All subjects selected for this study were deemed to be extremely healthy with no known health issues and no family history of a disease. Subjects under the age of 30 were included if their parents and grandparents lived for at least 80 years of age without significant health problems that required surgery or long-term medication. The study’s results revealed a strong direct correlation between health and the microbes in the intestine.

The study was published in the Oct. 11, 2017, issue of mSphere, an open access journal published by the American Society for Microbiology. The study revealed that the overall bacterial composition of healthy elderly individuals was similar to that of people decades younger and that the gut microbiome differed little in individuals between the ages of 30 to over 100.

The authors stated that whether these outcomes are a cause or effect (does healthy microbiota cause good health or does being healthy positively effect the microbiota) is still unknown, but they emphasize that point it is the diversity of intestinal bacteria that remained the same through their study group. In his concluding remarks, Dr. Gloor said, “This demonstrates that maintaining the diversity of your gut as you age is a biomarker of healthy aging, just like low-cholesterol is a biomarker of a healthy circulatory system.”

The China-Canada Institute conducted the study in collaboration with the University of Western Ontario and Tianyi Health Science Institute in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu, China.

Reference:  Bian G, Gloor GB, et al. The Gut Microbiota of Healthy Aged Chinese Is Similar to That of the Healthy Young. mSphere, 2017; 2 (5): e00327-17.