Older persons are often affected by a low-grade state of inflammation called “inflammaging” and is associated with a significant rise in blood inflammation markers, independently of other risk factors. Inflammaging is related to the gradual deterioration of the immune system with age and altered immune response termed immunosenescence. This refers to age-related declines in the capacity to respond to infections and likely contributes to the cause of several diseases typically associated with ageing such as dementia, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases as well as increased viral infections.
One of the most prominent manifestations of ageing is an increase in susceptibility to infections (Immunosenescence) which is why the covid virus is so deadly to the elderly. In fact even before the covid pandemic respiratory infections including influenza were one of the top killers of elderly people in the world, with the oldest being most at risk. And studies on mice show similar results.
Fortunately, reducing inflammation has been shown to have a significant reduction on these deaths including through lowering inflammation in the gut. Prebiotic/probiotic supplementation have also been shown to decrease the severity of infection in the elderly suggesting that age-related alterations in gut microbiota may precipitate reduced viral responses in the elderly, and that this dysbiosis can be treated to improve immune responses. In fact, depletion of specific gut microbiota through antibiotic treatment negatively affects our immune response and dysbiosis of the gut microbiota has been shown to negatively impact viral outcomes and recovery. Both Covid and influenza infections induces gut microbiota dysbiosis so the relationship between gut microbiota and influenza infection is complex and biderectional.
Studies have shown that supplementing with probiotics and prebiotics to improve your immune responses, to reduce severity and shorten recovery time.
There are now hundreds and hundreds of studies on the role of gut health, inflammation and ageing. That is why we are running our next speaking tour in Queensland in August on The Ageing Gut Chronic Illness and the Immune system. Dementia, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis pain and more. So if you have any interested in healthy ageing or the make sure you get along.