For every researcher interested in new approaches, there are another few whose horizons end at supplements and exercise. Thus one finds papers like this one, in which the authors discuss whether probiotics and exercise can help to ameliorate the aging of the gut microbiome. It seems a little ridiculous to focus completely on these options in a world in which fecal microbiota transplantation has been shown to produce much larger, lasting effects on the gut microbiome following a single treatment, and a few other less well developed options on the table, such as flagellin immunization, may prove to be as effective and useful.
Despite numerous interindividual differences, it is now clear that the composition of the microbiota of the elderly differs significantly from that of young and middle-aged people. Numerous progresses have been made on the study of the microbiota, and evidence is accumulating on the efficacy of therapies based on the microbiota, even if the clinical applications on obtaining the slowing down of aging are still lacking and more advanced human studies at strain-level resolution are required. The gut microbiota research should be pointed on specific signatures related to longevity. Future research should consider the individuals’ baseline microbiome features and customize the therapies to meet their needs. Although knowledge on the microbiota in humans is limited, the present evidence led to hypothesizing strategies useful for maintaining a good state of health in the elderly.
A healthy lifestyle, with a balanced diet rich in unrefined foods of natural origin, together with adequate physical exercise, aerobic or combined, sustained for sufficiently long periods, allows for restoration and maintenance of a healthy microbiota even in old age, promoting healthy aging. Of course, prevention of the decline of the microbiota with a delayed onset of age-related pathologies should be preferred; however, a detailed knowledge of the actions of gut microorganisms will allow the formulation and diffusion of products containing supplements such as probiotics, prebiotics, and nutraceuticals with specific properties. Obviously, the use of supplements must be targeted, individualized and calibrated on the needs of the individual subject, and appropriate strategies must be implemented to maintain the restored microbiota.
In this review, we focalized on the influence of lifestyle on the maintenance of a healthy microbiota in the elderly and on the consequences on the general state of health of the subject. The effects of specific supplements were also highlighted, in order to suggest personalized microbiota-based strategies for healthy aging.