We interviewed Prof. Paul O’Toole, Senior Lecturer at University College Cork, to discuss bacterial colonisation, or how bacteria reach the digestive tract from birth. The kind of birth, the family environment and food are some of the factors that initially influence the development of the gut microbiota, explains Prof. O’Toole. With time, the microbiota stabilises (except when we are affected by disease) and the composition of the microbiota begins to lose diversity as we get closer to maturity.

“Diet is one of the most exciting elements in the whole microbiota story,” explains Prof. O’Toole and he highlights the essential role of food in maintaining the diversity of the bacterial community living in the digestive system, the gut microbiota. Prof. O’Toole also explains his participation in developing the ELDERMET study, which analyses how gut microbiota correlates with health status in people over 65 years.

We hope you enjoy this interview, which helps us continue to understand the importance of the gut microbiota for health in all stages of life.