The human gut contains trillions of live bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and this world of microorganisms is called the “gut microbiome.” The gut microbiome also contains beneficial bacteria, or “probiotics,” which help the body with important tasks, such as digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function and even cognition and mood.
When the balance of our friendly bacteria is disrupted, digestive issues, a weakened immune system and even more health issues such as skin issues, allergies, and migraines can occur.
When people age, the diversity and amount of bacterial species in the gut decreases. Less diversity means that certain functions in the body cannot be carried out in the same way.
In recent years, researchers have tried to better understand the connection between this reduced bacterial diversity and age-related illnesses. Multiple research studies found a connection between changes in the gut microbiome and illnesses such as dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s and Type 2 Diabetes.
This is why probiotic supplements are of particular importance for seniors. They help restore the natural diversity of our gut bacteria, strengthen the immune system, and even positively impact cognition and mood.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the relationship between gut health and aging, and how probiotics can offer immense support.
Do Probiotics Work for Seniors?
Probiotics are among the most important dietary supplements to consider for seniors.
The human gut is home to trillions of good bacteria, which contribute to many important functions in the body. These include: digestion, nutrient absorption, immune function, and even cognition and mood.
When the healthy balance is disrupted, digestive issues such as diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and bloating may arise. Digestive issues are early warning signs. If unresolved, this imbalance can lead to more serious problems such as a weakened immune system, allergies, trouble concentrating, and even changes in mood.
At the same time, the occurrence of harmful bacteria such as Bacteroides and Clostridia, significantly increases with age.
In one study, scientists looked at the amount of bifidobacteria of people in different age groups. Bifidobacteria, such as bifidobacterium lactis and bifidobacterium longum, perform many important tasks in the body, including immune function, gut barrier support and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs).
The scientists found that bifidobacteria make up at least 60 to 70% of bacteria in the gut of a young child. By the time the person reaches old age, bifidobacteria make up only 5%. They argue that this can help explain why many diseases arise in old age.
Seniors also frequently struggle with digestive health problems such as constipation, diarrhea, indigestion or more serious conditions such as gastro-intestinal (GI) cancers.
Benefits of probiotics have been demonstrated in scientific studies in everything from weight loss to vaginal health. Specific probiotic products support the digestive system and can help address digestive health issues such as constipation, diarrhea and bloating.
Another issue that many elderly face is a weakened immune system. Some probiotic supplements contain specific probiotic strains that help strengthen the immune system.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s are debilitating age-related conditions. The exact cause of Alzheimer’s Disease is still unclear. However, research over the past few years has highlighted a strong connection between the gut and the brain, called the “gut-brain axis.”
Some of the more advanced probiotics –also referred to as “psychobiotics”– strengthen the gut-brain axis, which has a positive effect on memory, cognition and mood.
In another scientific review of prebiotic and probiotics for seniors, probiotic strains such as Lactobacillus rhamnosus, L plantarum, and L casei have been demonstrated to help with common gut issues that seniors face.
Not all probiotics are the same. That’s why it’s important to choose a high-quality probiotic tailored to the person’s needs. For example, a probiotic for constipation contains different strains than a probiotic that is designed to help with diarrhea or inflammation in the gut.
Senior Health Goals Probiotics Can Help With
Certain health issues become more prevalent with age. This can be due to a wide range of factors, including the natural aging process, more medications, less movement, and/or a change in diet.
Constipation is defined as less than three bowel movements per week. In seniors especially, constipation is often a result of medications that have constipation as a side effect, less movement, and a low-fiber diet. Low fluid intake is another potential cause for constipation.
The use of probiotic supplements in various cases of constipation has been studied by many researchers over the years. The conclusion: Probiotic supplements can be extremely helpful to those suffering from constipation.
They rebalance the gut flora, increase mucus production in the intestines, and improve frequency and consistency of your bowel movements.
If you want to learn more about constipation and other digestive issues, check out our blog post on this topic.
Diarrhea is defined as more than three loose or liquid bowel movements per day.
The most common causes of diarrhea are: medications such as antibiotics, traveler’s diarrhea, or harmful bacteria. In seniors, the overgrowth of harmful bacteria such as Clostridia is a common problem.
A high-quality probiotic supplement restores the diversity of good bacteria in the gut, so that there is less room for the bad bacteria to flourish. Recent research shows that some strains of probiotic bacteria have the ability to fight certain bad bacteria and viruses.
For example, OMNi-BiOTiC® AB10 significantly reduces rates of antibiotic-associated diarrhea and diarrhea associated with Clostridium Difficile (a very aggressive pathogen that causes severe diarrhea and inflammation in the gut).
Bloating and Flatulence
Most people experience bloating as a feeling of fullness, tightness and an extended belly. When it’s really bad, the belly can swell up like a basketball and you will feel a lot of pain.
Bloating occurs when certain bacteria produce too much gas. It can indicate an overgrowth of bad bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi in the gut.
These pathogens produce large amounts of gas while they reproduce and digest the food particles in your intestines. Candida overgrowth, for example, leads to flatulence, bloating, strong sugar cravings and a thick white coating on the tongue.
Another common reason for bloating and flatulence is food intolerances. When people are allergic to lactose, gluten or other food items, this can show up as bloating, flatulence and nausea after eating these items.
The healthy balance of your gut bacteria is the foundation of healthy digestion. A high quality, multispecies probiotic supplement helps restore this balance.
In addition, certain types of probiotic bacteria can fight pathogens that may make you bloat and restore a healthy balance of your beneficial gut bacteria.
OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE contains a specific combination of these important probiotic strains to help optimize digestion, maintain a strong gut barrier function and inhibit the growth of common pathogens such as Candida.
Weakened Immune System
Many seniors are looking for ways to strengthen the immune system. Did you know that 80% of our immune system resides in the gut?
If the gut is weak, the immune system is also weak. Taking the right kind of probiotic bacteria can, in fact, block viruses, bacteria and other harmful substances from entering the body.
OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE supports the immune system in three ways.
The Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria strains in OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE help form a natural barrier in the gut to protect the body against germs. These strains also create an environment in the intestines that is not favorable to many viruses and bacteria.
Second, these lactobacilli strains inactivate viruses before the virus can enter the epithelial cells of the intestinal wall where it replicates.
Third, the specific probiotic strains promote antiviral effects by stimulating the immune system.
Reduced Cognitive Function
The onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease are a big fear for seniors and their loved ones.
Both are diseases of the brain, so how does this relate to gut health? Quite a bit, actually. The gut and the brain stand in constant communication, and our gut bacteria play an important role in this.
An imbalance of bacteria leads to inflammation in the gut. If this goes on over longer periods of time, harmful bacteria, food additives and other substances can leak into the bloodstream and eventually reach the brain.
This results in inflammation in the brain, also called “neuroinflammation.” More and more scientific literature points to a strong connection between inflammation in the gut, inflammation in the brain and cognitive diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Probiotics help address the underlying issue of an imbalance in the gut.
Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement increases the diversity of probiotic bacteria in the gut. Specific bacterial strains can help reduce inflammation in the colon, and strengthen the gut wall so that fewer bacteria can leak into the bloodstream.
This results in less inflammation in the body. Most importantly, specific bacterial strains act positively on the gut-brain axis to help improve memory, mood and cognitive processes.
OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release contains these specific bacterial strains. In a clinical study, Alzheimer patients took OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release once per day for one month. OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release increased the bacterial diversity, reduced inflammation in the gut, and strengthened the gut barrier.
Best Probiotics for Seniors From OMNi-BiOTiC®
At OMNi-BiOTiC®, our products are tailored to specific health needs. When choosing the right OMNi-BiOTiC® for a senior, ask yourself what health challenges need support.
OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE supports a healthy immune system. It also helps alleviate occasional constipation and regulates bowel movements. Specific strains in OMNi-BiOTiC® BALANCE fight yeast infections such as Candida.
If you’re frequently taking antibiotics or experiencing diarrhea, then try OMNi-BiOTiC® AB 10.
This product contains 10 strains that fight pathogens that might be causing your diarrhea. It also helps restore healthy diversity in the gut flora after taking a course of antibiotics or other medications that harm your gut bacteria.
Diarrhea is also very common after staying at a hospital. This can be due to an infection by the harmful bacteria Clostridium Difficile, or “C. Diff.” The bacterial strains in OMNi-BiOTiC® AB 10 inhibit the growth of the dangerous pathogen Clostridium difficile and improve C. diff. Associated Diarrhea (CDAD).
OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release is a powerful probiotic that acts on the gut-brain axis.
If you’re dealing with inflammation in the gut, have trouble concentrating or frequent changes in mood, then try OMNi-BiOTiC® STRESS Release.
This effective probiotic increases bacterial diversity in the gut, reduces inflammation and strengthens the gut-brain axis. A strong gut-brain axis supports memory, cognitive function and promotes positive mood.
You can also take our product fit quiz to find the best probiotic supplement for you.
Probiotics provide many health benefits for seniors. Seniors struggle with digestive issues more frequently than younger people. They also deal with more age-related health issues such as a decline in memory and a weaker immune system.
While foods such as yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir may contain probiotics, the concentrated probiotic blend of friendly bacteria in a high quality probiotic supplement is uniquely designed with the right Colony Forming Unit (CFU) count and live microorganisms to support a healthy gut microbiome, get live bacteria through stomach acid, and prevent harmful bacteria from colonizing your gut.
But not only seniors and those struggling with health issues benefit from probiotics. Healthy women, children, and men can all benefit. Taking a high-quality probiotic supports the body in its overall health and is a great addition to anyone’s supplement regimen.
In recent years, researchers have made a strong connection between the gut and the brain, and the gut’s role in the immune system. Specifically formulated probiotics can help support the aging individual from their core and help combat many popular health challenges seniors are facing.
To feel the beneficial effects of probiotics, make sure to choose a probiotic that addresses your specific health needs. Because your health needs are unique, your probiotic support should be too!