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Probiotics and prebiotics in immune function in elderly

FANDI IBRAHIM1, ARTHUR C. OUWEHAND2*
1. University of Turku, Functional Foods Forum, Turku, 20014, Finland
2. Danisco Finland, Health & Nutrition, Kantvik, 02460, Finland

Abstract

The number and proportion of senior citizens is increasing in affluent countries. Although many people remain relatively healthy at high age, old age will sooner or later lead to a reduction of physiological function. The immune system andintestinal tract are among those organs which activity is reduced. Research suggests that there is maybe a correlation between the two. Specific pre- and/or probiotics have been shown to influence the composition of the intestinal microbiota. In somecases, this seems to correlate with improvements in immune function in elderly. A causal relationship remains, however, to bedocumented. Microbiota changes as such, usually increases in faecal levels of bifidobacteria, are no guarantee for improvedimmune or other bodily functions.