Aging is accompanied with increased frailty and comorbidities, which is potentially associated with microbiome perturbations. Dietary fibers could contribute to healthy aging by beneficially impacting gut microbiota and metabolite profiles. We aimed to compare young adults with elderly and investigate the effect of pectin supplementation on fecal microbiota composition, short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), and exhaled volatile organic compounds (VOCs) while using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled parallel design. Fifty-two young adults and 48 elderly consumed 15 g/day sugar beet pectin or maltodextrin for four weeks. Fecal and exhaled breath samples were collected before and after the intervention period. Fecal samples were used for microbiota profiling by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, and for analysis of SCFAs by gas chromatography (GC). Breath was used for VOC analysis by GC-tof-MS. Young adults and elderly showed similar fecal SCFA and exhaled VOC profiles. Additionally, fecal microbiota profiles were similar, with five genera significantly different in relative abundance. Pectin supplementation did not significantly alter fecal microbiota, SCFA or exhaled VOC profiles in elderly or young adults. In conclusion, aside from some minor differences in microbial composition, healthy elderly and young adults showed comparable fecal microbiota composition and activity, which were not altered by pectin supplementation.
Keywords: aging; dietary fiber; elderly; exhaled air; microbiota; pectin; young adults.