Aging is associated with chronic low-grade inflammation, sarcopenia and functional decline. The loss of muscle mass between the ages of 40 and 80 is approximately between 30% and 60% and is associated with disability, illness, and death. Age-related musculoskeletal decline is a significant risk for falls in the elderly.

Exercise and nutritional supplementation are currently recommended as preventative against the loss of muscle and muscle strength, however, most of the nutritional studies have focused on protein supplementation. Since sarcopenia is associated with increased inflammation and impaired glucose homeostasis, omega-3-fatty have also been investigated.

According to a new article published earlier this month in Nutrients, researchers investigated the role of gut dysbiosis and the development of sarcopenia.

This was a case-control study investigating the gut microbiome composition in 50 cases in elderly women between 65 and 75 years of age with sarcopenia and 50 healthy controls. A food frequency questionnaire was obtained for the average food intake over the previous 3 months. A physical exam was performed, and assessments included height, weight, grip strength, and body composition.

As a result, grip strength, body weight, body mass index (BMI), skeletal muscle mass, energy intake, and high-quality protein intake were lower in cases than in controls. The gut microbiome testing demonstrated that the Bacteroides was significantly reduced in the case group compared to the Prevotella which was more abundant. Elderly women with sarcopenia had significantly different gut microbiota compositions than healthy individuals. Bifidobacterium longum was significantly higher in the controls. Animal and human studies have showed improved muscle function such as grip strength and muscle endurance as well as recovery from muscle atrophy. Probiotics such as Bifidobacterium longum contribute to the absorption and utilization of vitamin D and minerals and provides a protective factor for sarcopenia. There was also an increase in the Firmicutes to Bacteriodetes in the case group. Prebiotics such as xylo-oligosaccharides (XOS) can increase Bifidobacterium and improve this ratio as well. Prebiotics and probiotics have been shown to reduce low grade inflammation seen in those with sarcopenia.

These findings demonstrate a role of the microbiome and sarcopenia. Other nutrients to consider besides prebiotics and probiotics include vitamin D, magnesium, vitamin C, collagen, BCAAs, HMB, protein supplementation, and tocotrienols.

By Michael Jurgelewicz, DC, DACBN, DCBCN, CNS

Source: Wang Z, Deji Y, et al. Bifidobacterium as a Potential Biomarker of Sarcopenia in Elderly Women. Nutrients. 2023 Mar 3;15(5):1266.


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