Relationships between dietary diversity and gut microbial diversity in the elderly

Benef Microbes. 2022 Dec 7;13(6):453-464. doi: 10.3920/BM2022.0054. Epub 2022 Nov 15.


Diet is considered as a major driver of gut microbiota composition. However, little is known about the relationship between overall dietary balance and gut microbiota, especially in the elderly. Here, using the Quantitative Index for Dietary Diversity (QUANTIDD), we analysed the relationships between dietary diversity and gut microbiota diversity in 445 Japanese subjects aged 65-90 years. We also examined the effect of age by comparing the young-old group aged 65 to 74 years (<75 years group; n=246) and the old-old group aged 75 years and older (≥75 years group; n=199). QUANTIDD showed significant positive relationships with Pielou's evenness and Shannon indices, two α-diversity indices related to the uniformity of species distribution. This suggests that a more diverse diet is associated with a more uniform abundance of various bacterial groups, rather than a greater variety of gut bacteria. QUANTIDD also showed significant positive associations with the abundance of Anaerostipes, Eubacterium eligens group, and Eubacterium ventriosum group, which produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and are beneficial to health. Negative association was found with the abundance of Ruminococcus gnavus group, which produces inflammatory polysaccharides. Positive associations between QUANTIDD and α-diversity indices or the abundance of specific bacterial groups were identified among all subjects and in the <75 years group, but not in the ≥75 years group. Our results suggest that dietary diversity contributes to the diversity of the gut microbiota and increases the abundance of SCFAs-producing bacteria, but only up to a certain age. These findings help to understand the complex relationship between diet and gut microbiota, and provide hints for specific dietary interventions to promote beneficial gut microbiota in the elderly.

Keywords: aging; diet; dietary variety; gut microbiota; microbiome.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Diet
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Probiotics*