• First, with increasing age, you have fewer immune T cells. These cells are necessary to recognize and respond to health threats.
  • Second, you accumulate more worn-out memory-type T cells, which have lost their ability to divide and function properly.Instead, they release pro-inflammatory molecules. An imbalanced inflammatory response further accelerates immune system decline — and contributes to many other health issues seniors face.
  • Third, older adults face a decrease in natural killer (NK) cell activity, linked to increased risk of adverse health concerns.

But apart from changes to specific cells in your immune system . . .

There’s a key factor associated with the immune decline of aging — and it relates to your gut.

The Immune System and Your “Second Brain”

Did you know you have two brains?

Deep within the walls of your gut lies a network of 100 million nerve cells — more than you have in either your spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.

Scientists call this second brain in your digestive system the enteric nervous system or ENS.

While it can’t balance your checkbook or help you solve a crossword puzzle, your gut’s second brain is extremely powerful.

And these powers extend far beyond merely processing the food you eat.

Here’s why . . .

Scientists have discovered that around 70% to 80% of your immune system is actually located inside your gut.

This immune system in your digestive tract is designed to “fence off” potential threats from gaining entrance to the rest of your body through your circulation.

And the enteric nervous system inside your gut helps to regulate many of your vital immune functions.

So as you can imagine, supporting your gut’s immune system is vital to maintaining health as you age.

Providing this support means taking care of the defenders that live there.

The “Soldiers” in Your Gut

Your gut is home to about 100 trillion bacteria and  they weigh 2 or 3 pounds!

And because so many living organisms make a home there, many scientists now consider your gut to be an organ of sorts. They call it the microbial organ — or microbiome.

You’ve probably heard about the beneficial bacteria in your gut — your defending “soldiers.”

For you to remain optimally healthy, about 85% of the bacteria in your gut should be comprised of friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus or Bifidobacteria.

The remaining 15% are different kinds of non-beneficial microbes, but their minority status helps keep them in check.

Unfortunately, in many people — especially older folks — this ratio becomes skewed. The non-beneficial bacteria increase in numbers, crowding out your good soldiers.

And since most of your immune system is located in your gut, this does not bode well for your aging immune function.

In fact, research shows that a delicate balance of microbial species is required to maintain healthy immune function. A disturbance in this balance can result in an imbalanced inflammatory response leading to health concerns, even the frailty of old age.

Threats to Your Gut Bacteria

Researchers are becoming more and more aware that microbial balance in the gut becomes increasingly disturbed by the aging process itself.

Study co-author Ayse Demirkan, a senior lecturer at the University of Surrey, noted that death and impairments due to Parkinson’s are increasing faster than any other neurological disorder worldwide. Diagnosed cases have more than doubled in the past 25 years.

A recent study suggests that Parkinson’s disease, in which parts of the brain are progressively damaged over many years, may actually start in the gut

One example was the bacterial species Bifidobacterium dentium, known to cause infections such as brain abscesses. Levels were seven times higher in folks with Parkinson’s, while levels of Roseburia intestinalis, a bacterium found in healthy colons, were 7.5 times lower. Constipation is a recognized symptom of Parkinson’s.

Consider how many toxins we’re exposed to today — especially in our water and food.

More than 80,000 chemicals are currently used in the U.S. today. Most of them have not been adequately tested for their effects on our health. Of course, this includes our gut health.

And there’s the matter of our generally poor diets, low in fiber and high in fat and refined carbohydrates.

These dietary concerns influence the type of gut microbes we have — as well as their ability to function. Because this can negatively modify immune function.

Even certain medications can disrupt the proper balance of your gut microbes. Of particular importance are medications you know as antibiotics.

Nearly 30% of the gut bacteria in patients with Parkinson’s differed from those without the disease, according to British and U.S. researchers.

Antibiotics and Your Immune Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC), at least 30% of antibiotic treatments prescribed in the outpatient setting are unnecessary.

Unfortunately, every time a person takes antibiotics, sensitive bacteria are killed. But resistant ones are left to grow and multiply. This means that overuse of antibiotics is a major cause of the epidemic rise in drug-resistant bacteria.

And this antibiotic resistance is of particular concern for older adults, who have a high rate of antibiotic use.

Because antibiotics have a wide range of effects, they also kill off those “friendly” bacteria in the gut, leading to upset in the composition of the intestinal microbes.

Eventually this can lead back to that undesirable imbalanced inflammatory response and immune health concerns.

And if this wasn’t bad enough, what happens in your gut also affects your mood and your overall health.

Your “Second Brain” Influences Mood and Well‑Being

Contrary to popular opinion, mood changes are not all in your head . . .

Whenever you’ve experienced a “gut feeling” or felt “butterflies in your stomach,” this is your second brain talking to you.

A big part of your emotions are likely influenced by the nerves in your gut, which communicate back and forth with the brain in your skull.

It may surprise you to know that your gut’s enteric nervous system is home to more than 30 neurotransmitters, including serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and dopamine.

In fact, 95% of your body’s serotonin is found in the bowels.

Serotonin is a chemical responsible for mood control (you’ll often find serotonin regulated by certain antidepressant medications).

Scientists are just beginning to unravel the complexities of the enteric nervous system. They’ve found that the bacteria in your gut may affect not only the gut, but the mind itself.

Emerging research indicates that your gut’s nervous system may influence emotions, response to stress, pain perception, and other aspects of behavior.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the enteric nervous system can trigger big emotional shifts in people coping with digestive health concerns such as constipation, bloating, stomach upset, and others.

That’s because irritation in the GI system sends signals to the brain that can trigger these mood changes.

In fact, research suggests that serotonin dysfunction in the GI system can lead to impairments in brain function that involve mood, sleep, and behavior.

This is yet another important reason to keep your gut happy and healthy.

So what’s the best way to do this?

Eating yogurts alone does not help much

They are loaded with sugar and other additives. Plus, they are often heat processed or pasteurized, which destroys some of their live bacterial cultures.

That’s why I recommend supplementing your diet with probiotics to help balance the bacteria in your gut.

I recommend that you take a comprehensive Digestive Analysis such as the GI 360 with Doctors Data which analyzes the good and bad microbes and determines which bacterial overgrowth is in your gut and what to do about it.

This is especially important for older adults, as you’ve already seen.

Multiple clinical trials have found that probiotics can enhance immune function in the elderly.

A 2019 review of research in the Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism also notes that probiotics help regulate the inflammatory process.

The Harvard Health website reports that probiotics can do more than support the health of your digestive tract. They can enhance mood and cognitive function — and decrease stress and anxious feelings.

And a 2017 review in the journal Gut Microbes considers the use of probiotics a sound nutritional strategy for healthy aging

The Probiotics that you take must be customized to your unique microbial fingerprint which is identified through a functional gut test that you do in the privacy of your home and is picked up from your home to be shipped to a nearby lab.

Taking over the counter probiotics with 2 to 5 billion strains of various bacteria does not work.   You need to know which strains you are deficient in and then customize them to the microbial fingerprint identified by the functional GI stool test.   You will need to rotate different species and brands in order to continue to colonize your digestive system with the right strains and help your body eliminate the badv”dysbiotic’ bacteria”

This bad, dysbiotic bacteria sends inflammatory cytokines into every cell of your body and increases overall systemic inflammation

The bacteria does not just stay in the gut, it can migrate to every organ and throughout the body.

Take action today by calling 650-856-3151 and going to www.digestivehealthcenter – Contact Us to set up your introductory 15 minute phone call to discuss how we can assist you to optimal Microbiome Health

Sources:  Newsmax.Com  May 5, 2023

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