The gut microbiome of younger and older populations in Korea is relatively different, according to the taxonomic results of research published in the Nutrition Research Journal (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2020.12.013).
In the study, faecal samples' microbiota composition, from older (65+ years) and younger (20-25 years) participants were analysed by next-generation sequencing methodology —100 samples per age group.
The results showed that ten bacterial taxa (phyla) had distinct abundances between the age groups: Ruminococcus (Firmicutes), Roseomonas (Proteobacteria), Parvimonas (Firmicutes), Ruminiclostridium (Firmicutes), Butyrivibrio (Firmicutes), Anaerostipes (Firmicutes), Mollicutes RF39 uncultured bacterium (Tenericutes), Fusobacterium (Fusobacteria), and Anaerobacillus (Firmicutes); and significant differences between young and older adults' microbiota within the following bacterial phyla: Firmicutes, Proteobacteria, Cyanobacteria, Tenericutes, and Fusobacteria.
The Actinobacteria phylum was prominently found in the older population, detectable at 52.64%, compared to 43.24% detection rate in the younger group. Bacteroidetes, Cyanobacteria, Fusobacteria, and Proteobacteria were found at higher prevalence within the younger population. Epsilonbacteraeota showed no difference in its prevalence amongst both populations; Lactobacillus abundance was higher within the younger population, and Escherichia-Shigella lower than the elderly group at the genus level.
Factors including gender, dietary habits, age, ethnicity, health status impact the gut microbiota. The relationship between diet, microbiota, and health status, has been previously reported, with dietary habits showed to drive alterations within the human microbiota1. Further, low-fibre diets are linked to decreasing diversity within the gut microbiota. In Korea, vegetable consumption rate rises with age, mainly through kimchi—lactic-acid bacteria fermented cabbage. This study also suggests that younger consumers have a higher consumption rate of dairy products, which is ideal for Lactobacillus, explaining its higher abundance in younger people.
Older consumers' interest in factors related to age is increasing in Korea, thus reinforcing the need for the nutraceutical industry to better understand consumers and their gut health needs based on age groups as well as geographical location—opening an opportunity for combining digestive health solutions with personalised nutrition to prevent malnutrition and maintain a balanced digestive health amongst consumers. Researchers concluded these results “may be applied to the development of an age-based human digestion model.”
- Claesson, M.J. et al. (2012). Gut microbiota composition correlates with diet and health in the elderly. Nature, 488(7410), 178–184. DOI: 10.1038/nature11319