Gut bacteria throughout the lifespan

 Every day there is more news about the great effect probiotics have on health. It seems so simple~ take a probiotic to enjoy great health. However, there are so many probiotics available. Which is the right one?

For most people, Nutrivee’s Advanced Formula Probiotic is an excellent choice. It contains a balanced blend of beneficial strains that address both the short-term need to replenish good bacteria and the long-term goal of maintaining a healthy GI environment. It is well suited to the needs of most adults.

As we learn more and more about the microbiome, one question that comes up is how the gut flora changes over time. Does a baby have the same bacteria at birth that a senior has after an entire lifetime? It’s a great question that is being vigorously studied. The biggest variations in gut flora do appear to be at the ends of life~ in infancy and in the elderly.

Actually, let’s take it back even further. Scientists once thought that the womb was sterile and that the GI tract of a newborn was seeded with bacteria during a vaginal birth or at the first food. However, newer research has shown us that there are, in fact, bacteria in the womb. So…

Probiotics and pregnancy

More information is needed before specific strains and doses will be identified, but there appear to be great benefits for both mom and baby from taking probiotics during pregnancy. For example, moms who used a probiotic containing Lactobacillus rhamnosus during pregnancy in one double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial were found to be less likely than the placebo group to experience gestational diabetes.[1] While this is a serious condition for mothers, putting them at an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes later in life, the greatest risk is to the fetus. Babies whose mothers were diagnosed with gestational diabetes are at greater risk of being born prematurely, experiencing respiratory distress syndrome, which makes it difficult for the baby to breathe, or experiencing Type 2 diabetes or obesity later in life.[2]

There has been great interest in how probiotics taken by pregnant women or newborns can influence the rising incidence of allergic diseases, including food sensitivities, environmental allergies and eczema in children. A recent meta-analysis was done, which means researchers reviewed all of the studies that had been done on the topic of allergies and probiotics containing various strains of beneficial bacteria taken before and after birth. Once studies of poor quality were removed and the best studies were reviewed, the researchers’ conclusion was that the best way to prevent food sensitivities in kids is to have mom take a probiotic during pregnancy and then continue the probiotic as a supplement in infancy. This result was greatest in kids who were born via C-section, which has often been considered a risk for allergies.[3]


As soon as a baby is born, his or her body begins to adapt to the environment. The populations of bacteria developing in the GI tract will vary based on how babies are born, where they are born, how they are fed and other influences, including whether antibiotics were used at birth. One of the first groups of bacteria to expand and create a positive environment for long-term health in the gut is Bifidobacteria. Breast-fed babies will receive Bifidobacteria species from breast milk,[4] which could be enhanced if mom is taking a probiotic, and formula-fed infants can be supplemented with Bifidobacteria.

In addition to more frequently including these important strains in formula, companies are recognizing the importance of prebiotics to creating and supporting a health GI tract. Breast-fed infants receive lots of prebiotics, a carbohydrate source that beneficial bacteria use for food, from breast milk. Formula makers recognize the vital importance of prebiotics to the development of a healthy GI tract and immune system, so they are adding this important ingredient to formulas as well.[5]


As kids grow, their health begins to show certain patterns. Some kids, for example, tend towards an allergic disposition, while other never show any signs of atopic disease. Childhood probiotics can be tailored to the child’s needs.

Lactobacillus species including L. casei and L. reuteri, for example, are great choices for kids who tend toward that allergic composition.[6] If the child responds well to dairy products, these strains can be found abundantly in yogurt and cultured foods, or in probiotics formulated as powders or chewables.

With more complex health conditions, such as Ulcerative Colitis, a more comprehensive probiotic formulation may be necessary to restore balance. One study showed remission of inflammatory bowel disease in kids who took strains of Lactobacillus, along with Saccharomyces boulardii and various Bifidobacteria species. It is an aggressive approach that should be guided by a physician, but because balancing the GI flora seems to have a strong influence on the immune system, the effects could have lasting benefits.[7]

Interest in the role of the microbiome in neurological diseases including autism, Rett Syndrome and ADHD is strong and research is growing in these areas. At this time, it seems to be most beneficial to use the probiotic strain matched to any other symptoms the child has, such as allergies or GI conditions, and support a strong, healthy base of Bifidobacteria spp..[8] Because the job of Bifidobacteria is to create a healthy atmosphere in the GI tract, and to prevent bad bacteria from causing trouble, it is the best way to guardian overall health.


As mentioned above, most healthy adults will experience improvement in minor GI symptoms from a high-quality supplement such as Nutrivee’s Advanced Probiotic Formula. The microbiota of adults is fairly stable, unless a disease is present. Lots of research is happening to determine which flora are best for different diseases, and we talk about those in other posts.


The most noticeable change in flora in elderly individuals is the amount of the Firmicutes and the Bacteroidetes spp. The elderly have a higher proportion of Bacteroidetes while young adults have higher proportions of Firmicutes. Bifidobacteria and a variety of less common species are also generally lower in the elderly. While any one person’s microbiome in this study stayed the same over time, the difference between elderly individuals was quite large. Some folks had 3% of their total flora represented by one bacterial species while another person had 94% of their bacterial flora represented by the same species.

Microbial diversity seemed to be beneficial, since overall it was lower in participants who were more frail, ate a less diverse diet had higher levels of inflammatory markers. Individuals living in a community had the most diverse microbiota and were healthier, compared to those in short- or long-term residential care[9].  Curiously, researchers also found that people who lived past 100 years of age actually had lower diversity of GI bacteria species. It is not yet clear which environmental influences or at what time point in their lives this change to a less diverse gut flora happened.

It will take time to learn exactly how and when to influence the microbiota of children and the elderly to manage disease, but the more research is done, the more clearly we see the profound role the gut plays in creating health throughout the lifespan really is.


[1] Wickens KL, Barthow CA, Murphy R, Abels PR, Maude RM, Stone PR, Mitchell EA, Stanley TV, Purdie GL, Kang JM, Hood FE, Rowden JL, Barnes PK, Fitzharris PF,

Crane J. Early pregnancy probiotic supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus

HN001 may reduce the prevalence of gestational diabetes mellitus: a randomised

controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2017 Apr 3:1-10. doi: 10.1017/S0007114517000289.

[Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 28367765.


[3] Zhang G-Q, Hu H-J, Liu C-Y, Zhang Q, Shakya S, Li Z-Y. Probiotics for Prevention of Atopy and Food Hypersensitivity in Early Childhood: A PRISMA-Compliant Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Shoenfeld. Y, ed. Medicine. 2016;95(8):e2562. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000002562.

[4] Gueimonde M, Laitinen K, Salminen S, Isolauri E. Breast milk: a source of bifidobacteria for infant gut development and maturation. Neonatology. 2007;92(1):64-6.

[5] Rodríguez JM, Murphy K, Stanton C, et al. The composition of the gut microbiota throughout life, with an emphasis on early life. Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease. 2015;26:10.3402/mehd.v26.26050. doi:10.3402/mehd.v26.26050.

[6] Miraglia Del Giudice M, Maiello N, Allegorico A, Iavarazzo L, Capasso M,

Capristo C, Ciprandi G. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 plus vitamin D(3) as

ancillary treatment in allergic children with asthma. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.

2016 Dec;117(6):710-712. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2016.09.004. Epub 2016 Oct 6. PubMed

PMID: 27720582.

[7] Miraglia Del Giudice M, Maiello N, Allegorico A, Iavarazzo L, Capasso M,

Capristo C, Ciprandi G. Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 plus vitamin D(3) as

ancillary treatment in allergic children with asthma. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.

2016 Dec;117(6):710-712. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2016.09.004. Epub 2016 Oct 6. PubMed

PMID: 27720582.

[8] Pärtty A, Kalliomäki M, Wacklin P, Salminen S, Isolauri E. A possible link

between early probiotic intervention and the risk of neuropsychiatric disorders

later in childhood: a randomized trial. Pediatr Res. 2015 Jun;77(6):823-8. doi:

10.1038/pr.2015.51. Epub 2015 Mar 11. PubMed PMID: 25760553.

[9] Saraswati S, Sitaraman R. Aging and the human gut microbiota—from correlation to causality. Frontiers in Microbiology. 2014;5:764. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2014.00764.

To all Nutrivee customers. Nutrivee has now been rebranded to 'Vibranelle'. PLEASE NOTE: Our Advanced Prebiotic is still the exact same formula from the same manufacturer. Our Advanced Probiotic formula has changed and is now manufactured by the same manufacturer as our Advanced Prebiotic. Please purchase through our Amazon store here

Dr Keri Layton

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