Why Probiotics Are Important As You Age
We’ve discussed before why probiotics are important for children and young adults, but what about older adults and seniors? Well it turns out, probiotics are even more important for this age group. Older adults have a much lower number of friendly bacteria and may also have more harmful bacteria in their intestines than younger adults. Some studies show that friendly bacteria levels in the gut of a typical over-60 year old senior is one thousandth of that of a younger adults. The elderly are much more likely to get gastrointestinal infections and bowel conditions.
What’s more, as you age, your cellular immunity also declines. These are the white cells that are necessary for your ability to maintain healthy immune system. A study in New Zealand of seniors between the ages of 63-84 found that consumption of the probiotic strain Bifidobacterium lactis resulted in an increase in both the number and potency of white blood cells. In fact, the greatest improvement was seen in seniors with the worst immune system responses prior to the study1 (Mercola, 2012). The bottom line, while it may be “the golden years”, with aging comes an increased susceptibility to decreased gastrointestinal function, which could lead to diarrhea and other intestinal problems.
The microflora (thousands of microbes) in your gut plays an active role in a wide variety of conditions, and affects your health status throughout your life. These microbes in the lower intestinal tract help us digest food, fight harmful bacteria, and regulate the immune system. But sometimes an imbalance of microbes occurs, leading to diarrhea and other health problems. When the gut becomes unbalanced with unhealthy levels of specific bacteria, probiotics are vital to help restore this balance.
But not all probiotics are the same, and different strains have different effects. Let’s take a look at the strain Lactobacillus gasseri. This strain is known to offer specific health benefits either on its own, or in combination with other probiotic bacteria. In fact, a 2011 clinical study published in the journal Ulcers revealed that this bacterial strain exerted anti-inflammatory effects in the colon, which were beneficial to the reduction of IBS and other conditions.2 (Wong, 2019) Bifidodobacterium bifidum, on the other hand, is great for restoring intestinal bacteria, relieving constipation and certain types of diarrhea. Bifidobacterium longum has been shown to treat constipation, reduce inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel conditions, maintain healthy cholesterol levels already within normal ranges, and even reduce development of certain seasonal discomforts.3 (Livestrong, 2014)
This article is for informational purposes only. This article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.