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Dig Liver Dis. 2002 Sep;34 Suppl 2:S19-24.

Gastrointestinal tract and the elderly: functional foods, gut microflora and healthy ageing.

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  • 1Ecology and Digestive Tract Physiology, UR910, National Institute of Agronomic Research, Jouy-en-Josas, France.

Abstract

Advances in science and medicine as well as improved living standards have led to a steady increase in life expectancy. Yet ageing is associated with increased susceptibility to degenerative or infectious diseases, which may be exacerbated by a poor nutritional status. The intestinal microflora will mediate crucial events towards the protection or degradation of health. It is hence essential and timely that strategies of preventive nutrition aimed at maintaining or improving the quality of life of the ageing population be developed. "CROWNALIFE" is a newly funded EuropeanUnion project, so called because of its emphasis on the preservation of the period of independence of the elderly, recognised as the "crown of life". The project aims at assessing age-related alterations and exploring strategies to restore and maintain a balanced healthy intestinal environment. Current knowledge on the composition and function of the human intestinal microflora is still improving with the use of better methodologies and yet their evolution with ageing has not been investigated in detail. There have been a few reports that putatively protective lactic acid bacteria, in general, and bifidobacteria, in particular, seem less represented in the elderly faecal flora. We have also observed an increase in species diversity of the dominant faecal microflora with ageing. This certainly warrants confirmation and is being addressed by the investigation of age-related changes in the structure and function of the intestinal flora of the elderly in countries across Europe. Ensuing results will constitute a baseline for functional-food based strategies aimed at providing health benefits for the elderly.

PMID:
12408434
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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