Here's an amazing microbiome-related fact I learned today.... .

By analyzing the microbes in a person's gut, skin or mouth, you can roughly predict their age.

Think about that for a second. You can roughly tell a person’s age by looking at their microbes!

The composition of gut microbes is determined by many factors, including what we eat, where we live and genetics.

The composition of microbes in an adult’s gut changes as we age. We lose key species of microbes as we get older. Some research suggests microbes may even accelerate aging in adults.

This new study published in MSystems looked at 8,959 samples from 10 studies - the most comprehensive study ever that looked at the microbiome and aging.

The scientists found the skin microbiome is the most accurate age-predictor, correctly estimating the age to within 3.8 years, followed by 4.5 years for an oral sample, and 11.5 years for a fecal sample.

Most interesting to me was the loss of microbes as people age.

To quote from the paper: “Interestingly, taxa enriched in young individuals (18 to 30 years) tend to be more abundant and more prevalent than taxa enriched in elderly individuals (>60 yrs), suggesting a model in which physiological aging occurs concomitantly with the loss of key taxa over a lifetime, enabling potential microbiome-targeted therapeutic strategies to prevent aging.”

Easy-to-read article about the research:

Scientific reference:

Huang, Shi, Niina Haiminen, Anna-Paola Carrieri, Rebecca Hu, Lingjing Jiang, Laxmi Parida, Baylee Russell, et al. 2020. “Human Skin, Oral, and Gut Microbiomes Predict Chronological Age.” MSystems 5 (1).