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Variety of Gut Bacteria Associated With Healthy Aging

A recent study focusing on bacteria present in the digestive systems of elderly adults suggests that having a variety of different microbes in your gut could result in healthier aging. Lower bacterial variety was found to be associated with increased frailty and several chronic conditions, including obesity and inflammatory diseases.

The researchers examined the fecal matter of 178 mature adults, some of whom were living in residential communities and some of whom were living in long-term care facilities. They found that individuals who were still living independently had a wider variety of gut bacteria than the ones in care facilities.

They attribute this difference in bacterial composition to the availability of a wider variety of foods in a residential setting compared to in a long-term care facility.

The research was conducted at University College Cork and the Teagasc Food Research Center in Ireland. The results were published online ahead of print on July 13, 2012, in the journal Nature.

Having a varied composition of bacteria in your digestive system is essential for staying healthy. Previous studies have linked healthy gut bacteria with strengthening the immune system and reducing the risk of chronic disease.

The best way to make sure you have a good variety of bacteria in your system to eat a varied diet. Good dietary sources of gut bacteria include yogurt, milk and sauerkraut. A high quality probiotic supplement is also a great source but if you choose this option, be sure it is packaged to block light, air and moisture which can easily kill probiotics.

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