Year Published: 2020




Annick P M van Soest 1, Gerben D A Hermes 2, Agnes A M Berendsen 1, Ondine van de Rest 1, Erwin G Zoetendal 2, Susana Fuentes 2 3, Aurelia Santoro 4 5, Claudio Franceschi 4 6, Lisette C P G M de Groot 1, Willem M de Vos 2 7


Dietary modulation of the gastro-intestinal microbiota is a potential target in improving healthy ageing and age-related functional outcomes, including cognitive decline. We explored the association between diet, gastro-intestinal microbiota and cognition in Dutch healthy older adults of the 'New dietary strategies addressing the specific needs of the elderly population for healthy aging in Europe' (NU-AGE) study. The microbiota profile of 452 fecal samples from 226 subjects was determined using a 16S ribosomal RNA gene-targeted microarray. Dietary intake was assessed by 7-day food records. Cognitive functioning was measured with an extensive cognitive test battery.

Key Findings

We observed a dietary and microbial pro- to anti-inflammatory gradient associated with diets richer in animal- or plant-based foods. Fresh fruits, nuts, seeds and peanuts, red and processed meat and grain products were most strongly associated to microbiota composition. Plant-rich diets containing fresh fruits, nuts, seeds and peanuts were positively correlated with alpha-diversity, various taxa from the Bacteroidetes phylum and anti-inflammatory species, including those related to Faecalibacterium prausnitzii and Eubacterium rectale and E. biforme. Animal product-rich diets associated with pro-inflammatory species, including those related to Ruminococcus gnavus and Collinsella spp.. Cognition was neither associated with microbiota composition nor alpha-diversity. In conclusion, diets richer in animal- and plant-based foods were related to a pro- and anti-inflammatory microbial profile, while cognition was associated with neither.