Gut microbiota composition correlates with diet and health in the elderly

Nature. 2012 Aug 9;488(7410):178-84. doi: 10.1038/nature11319.


Alterations in intestinal microbiota composition are associated with several chronic conditions, including obesity and inflammatory diseases. The microbiota of older people displays greater inter-individual variation than that of younger adults. Here we show that the faecal microbiota composition from 178 elderly subjects formed groups, correlating with residence location in the community, day-hospital, rehabilitation or in long-term residential care. However, clustering of subjects by diet separated them by the same residence location and microbiota groupings. The separation of microbiota composition significantly correlated with measures of frailty, co-morbidity, nutritional status, markers of inflammation and with metabolites in faecal water. The individual microbiota of people in long-stay care was significantly less diverse than that of community dwellers. Loss of community-associated microbiota correlated with increased frailty. Collectively, the data support a relationship between diet, microbiota and health status, and indicate a role for diet-driven microbiota alterations in varying rates of health decline upon ageing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Diet Surveys
  • Feces / microbiology*
  • Fruit
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Health
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Homes for the Aged
  • Hospitals, Community
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Meat
  • Metagenome / physiology*
  • Rehabilitation Centers
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables