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How Aging Affects The Gut Microbiome

Medically reviewed by Kevin Tin, MD, Asma Khapra, MD, Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen on March 28, 2023

“Microbiome”…..what does it mean? There are several different microbiomes in the various body cavities, which include the mouth, nose and gut. Microbiome refers to the community of microorganisms that reside in the body.


There is newer and increasing information in recent years about the brain-gut connection; the relationship between the gut microbiome and brain functions. There has been significant evidence of this connection as it relates to Alzheimer’s disease. It appears that the gut microbiome is highly sensitive to lifestyle habits, such as changes in sleep behaviors, diet, noise, or simply being sedentary. The ensuing effects can be risk factors in the development of sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. In this regard, this review is focused on analyzing the links between gut microbiome, modern lifestyle, aging, and Alzheimer’s disease.


The human body is indeed a miraculous ecosystem consisting of trillions of microbes and additional human cells, the largest majority of which reside in the gut, working to extract nutrients from the food we eat, modulating our immune system, and can even affect our mood. Conditions in the gut can be dramatically altered by both infectious and chronic illnesses or disease, while adversely, changes to the gut microbiome may increase the risk of non-infectious diseases.  As more is learned about these linked changes in the gut microbiome, scientists can learn how to develop newer and more effective tests and treatments.


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Immune Aging - Overview

Immune Aging - Overview

Aging and the gut microbiome connection


Aging also changes the gut microbiome. This may happen because older individuals eat a less complex diet and are likely to take many medications that may alter the microbes in their gut. 


The gut microbiome goes through significant changes in composition with age. Since we know that advanced age is often associated with, and a major risk factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease, these physiological changes in the gut microbiome may be a factor in the development of dementia.


Since advanced age is a major risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, age-related physiological changes, including changes in the microbiome, may play a role in the development of dementia. A number of studies have shown that the composition of the gut microbiome undergoes significant changes with age. Decrease in the number of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus leads to brain dysfunction associated with synaptogenesis disorders, depression, and cognitive impairment.




The body’s immune function is directly related to and influenced by the gut microbiome. While there are many factors at play, it appears that aging is also a factor. Since research is showing that the health of the gut microbiome may be connected to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, it stands to reason that regard for the optimum health of our gut can be of tremendous benefit as we age.


Written by Sherri Abergel

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