Modulation of the Aged Gut Microbiome to Benefit Health is a Field in its Infancy

Research of the past decade makes it clear that it is plausible and possible to alter the aged gut microbiome in ways that will reduce chronic inflammation and improve long-term health. This goal has been achieved in animal models via a range of different means, including flagellin immunization and fecal microbiota transplantation. In short-lived species, healthy life spans can be extended by restoring a more youthful gut microbiome, and in our own species, the detrimental changes that take place in gut microbiome populations are increasingly well catalogued. The next step has yet to be taken in earnest, however: to roll out human trials of the known ways to beneficially alter the gut microbiome.

Changes in the intestinal microflora with aging are related to the pathogenesis of age-related chronic diseases. Dietary intervention, exercise, and drug therapy are currently the most studied anti-aging measures and can improve the intestinal microbial imbalance caused by aging and promote a healthier intestinal environment to achieve anti-aging effects. In addition, gut microbiota modification represents a promising intervention for anti-aging and aging-related diseases, such as the use of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics.

Studies suggest that modifying the gut microbiota of the elderly population by the intake of functional food as probiotics, prebiotics, or synbiotics may be an effective strategy to counteract natural aging. At the same time, these functional products may be suitable, affordable, and economical to most elderly people. However, their effects on health are complex, depending on individual populations and the duration of treatments. Evidence of probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic use in elderly people is in its infancy compared with other measures.

Despite much research on these interventions, there are no firm conclusions about the benefits for human health. The reasons may be as follows: (1) Most of the relevant studies have been conducted in laboratory and animal models. These findings do not necessarily apply to humans directly. (2) Most clinical trials with humans are short-term and insufficient to understand long-term health effects. (3) Humans are quite different from each other in terms of sex, size, age, genetics, environment, lifestyle, and other factors. An anti-aging intervention that was found to help one person might not have the same effect on another. (4) Although many probiotics have proven strong safety profiles, we should still be careful to monitor their potential risks in different populations in the development of new probiotics.

Therefore, future research needs to focus on addressing these issues to better understand the safety and efficacy of these anti-aging measures in humans. In addition, although much hope and investment are currently focused on drug development, the application of anti-aging drugs in humans still has a long way to go. It is important to note that sensible habits may be more effective at extending healthspan than taking a medication. This means eating healthy foods, exercising, drinking alcohol in moderation or not at all, not smoking, getting adequate sleep, and maintaining an active lifestyle.


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