Dietary Protein and Muscle in Aging People: The Potential Role of the Gut Microbiome [review, 2018]

Muscle mass, strength, and physical function are known to decline with age. This is associated with the development of geriatric syndromes including sarcopenia and frailty. Dietary protein is essential for skeletal muscle function. Resistance exercise appears to be the most beneficial form of physical activity for preserving skeletal muscle and a synergistic effect has been noted when this is combined with dietary protein. However, older adults have shown evidence of anabolic resistance, where greater amounts of protein are required to stimulate muscle protein synthesis, and response is variable. Thus, the recommended daily amount of protein is greater for older people. The aetiologies and mechanisms responsible for anabolic resistance are not fully understood. The gut microbiota is implicated in many of the postulated mechanisms for anabolic resistance, either directly or indirectly. The gut microbiota change with age, and are influenced by dietary protein. Research also implies a role for the gut microbiome in skeletal muscle function. This leads to the hypothesis that the gut microbiome might modulate individual response to protein in the diet. We summarise the existing evidence for the role of the gut microbiota in anabolic resistance and skeletal muscle in aging people, and introduce the metabolome as a tool to probe this relationship in the future.

About Robert Zinn

Robert Zinn, M.D., Ph.D. is a medical doctor, physician, and web entrepreneur, who, for over 15 years was employed by academic and research institutions and focused his clinical practices on very specialized patient populations, such as those with rare genetic diseases or rare cancers. He shares his knowledge through his website,

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