Human evolution and lifestyle changes caused by the agricultural and industrial revolutions have led to great advances in medicine and increased life expectancy, whilst also profoundly altering the ecological relationships and disease patterns of populations. Studies involving populations that still enjoy a rural way of life and with traits similar to the Paleolithic period reveal them to present a more robust, resistant and diverse gut microbiota, in comparison to highly industrialized civilizations. The human diet has expanded and broadened to include the consumption of high-calorie foods, particularly from animal sources such as game meat and eggs. For some time, authors have been alert to the fact that a modern lifestyle leads to reduced intake of beneficial bacteria, suggesting that nonpathogenic bacteria are being eradicated. Furthermore, therapeutic procedures, including the use of probiotics and prebiotics, have been proposed to lead to recovery of this microbiota, which is altered due to both the ageing process and lifestyle related aspects. Accordingly, this article aims to review the impact of human aging and modern lifestyle on gut microbiota, within an evolutionary, ecological, epidemiological and therapeutic context.
Keywords: Gut microbiota; aging; evolution; lifestyle; prebiotics; probiotics.