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Diverse Diet, Variety of Microbes, Good Health

The diversity of the gut microbiomes of elderly people is linked to their health, reports NPR. A recent study published in Nature by University College Cork's Paul O'Toole and his colleagues compared the fecal microbiota of 178 people between the ages of 64 and 102, who lived independently or in out-patient day hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals, or long-term care facilities. The researchers found that participants who lived independently had a more diverse diet than those who lived in care facilities, and that people in long-term care had less diverse microbiota than people who lived independently. In addition, the researchers found an association between a decrease in microbe diversity and frailty, reduced muscle mass, and worsening mental state. NPR notes that many factors could be in play, though O'Toole says that diet is an important aspect. "We were surprised that the correlations between microbiota and health came out so strongly," he tells NPR.

In an editorial, The Guardian adds that "since this diversity also correlated with diet, the lesson is clear: variety is not just the spice of life, but its staple. We are what we eat, and so are our inner friends."

The Scan

Two J&J Doses

Johnson & Johnson says two doses of its SARS-CoV-2 vaccine provides increased protection against symptomatic COVID-19, CNN reports.

Pfizer-BioNTech Vaccine Response in Kids

The Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine in a lower-dose format appears to generate an immune response among children, according to the Washington Post.

Chicken Changes to Prevent Disease

The Guardian writes that researchers are looking at gene editing chickens to help prevent future pandemics.

PNAS Papers on Siberian Dog Ancestry, Insect Reproduction, Hippocampal Neurogenesis

In PNAS this week: ancestry and admixture among Siberian dogs, hormone role in fruit fly reproduction, and more.