There are 10-100 trillion microbes in the human intestine. 10 times more bacterial cells in intestine than human cells in body meaning: 100 times more bacterial genes than human genes in your body!
Alterations in the gut bacteria are increasingly linked to variations in health including obesity, and inflammatory conditions.
Controlling gut bacteria, for example by dietary modification, offers the prospect of improving health, especially in elderly people.
In recent years, scientists have shown that the large numbers of bacteria that are always carried in the human gut are important for our health. They are involved in extracting energy from our food, making certain vitamins, keeping dangerous bacteria at bay, and even fine-tuning or own defense mechanisms or immune system.
As people age, these beneficial properties of the gut bacteria appear to weaken, and the immune system also slows down. It’s not clear which body defense functions and defense mechanisms are most dependent on gut bacteria; which is what ELDERMET plans to find out!
We are studying the relationship between diet, gut bacteria and health status in a large number of elderly (>65 years) Irish subjects, mainly from the Munster region. We will use the findings to make recommendations for diet and food ingredients, to the benefit of Irish consumers and the Irish food industry.