Scientists from Tufts University compared the gut bacteria from 19 older adults who had either ‘high-physical function and favourable body composition’ or ‘low-physical function and less favourable body composition.’ They found that their microbiota differed significantly, with the first group showing far higher levels of beneficial bacteria, such as Prevotellaceae, Prevotella, Barnesiella, and Barnesiella intestinihominis.
Next, the authors introduced these species to the guts of mice and observed how the bacteria impacted their metabolic and physical profiles. Curiously, the mice displayed an increase in grip strength – a common measure of muscle strength.
The study’s lead author Michael Lustgarten said the findings will assist in understanding the “role of gut bacteria in the maintenance of muscle strength in older adults.” Although it could also have implications for gym-goers and those looking to improve their physical performance.
"For example, if we were to conduct an intervention to increase Prevotella levels in the gut microbiome, we would expect to see an increase in muscle strength if these bacteria are involved," he added.