Probiotics for Seniors
The gut microbiome is composed of trillions of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Some are beneficial that aid the body with digestive functions, nutrient absorption, immunity, and mental clarity. Others are harmful bacteria that cause illnesses and diseases.
When imbalances in the gut microbiome happens, the probiotic species becomes less diverse. As a result, the immune system weakens. Digestive problems may also occur and so with allergies, migraines, and skin problems like eczema and acne.
Researchers have been trying to understand the connection between reduced bacterial diversity and age-related illnesses. Increasing evidence shows that changes in the gut are linked with the following:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
Are probiotic supplements effective for seniors?
Probiotics are one of the most important dietary supplements to consider for senior citizens. According to studies, probiotics can offer more benefits to seniors and aging adults for more than just maintaining regularity. It can aid older adults in maintaining a healthy gut and immune system while warding off harmful bacteria such as C. difficile, which are more prevalent with age.
During the aging process, the number of bacterial species present in the gut decreases. Bifidobacteria and lactobacilli are among the good bacteria that decline with age. These bacteria make up 60-70 percent of the bacteria in the gut of a young child. By the time they reach old age, Bifidobacteria only make up about 5% of the body.
With less diversity, the body’s function cannot be carried out in the same way. Digestion issues, such as IBS and IBD, may occur. In the long run, this imbalance can cause more serious problems, such as:
- Weakened immunity
- Difficulty concentrating
Elderly people often suffer from health problems related to the digestive system, including diarrhea, constipation, indigestion, and more serious condition like cancer of the GI tract. Another issue many seniors face is weakened immunity.
It is for this reason that probiotic supplements are important for the elderly. Probiotics help restore the natural gut flora. It improve cognitive ability and emotional wellbeing. Some probiotic supplements contain specific probiotic strains that help strengthen the immune system. Probiotic strains like L. casei, L. plantarum, and L. rhamnosus have been shown to help with common gut issues that elderly people face.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are conditions common among many seniors. The exact cause remains unclear, but research has shown that the gut and brain have a strong connection called the gut-brain axis. More advanced probiotics, called “psychobiotics” help strengthen the gut-brain axis, which is beneficial for memory and cognitive function.