Secret of long life is in the gut bacteria

You are what you eat. Or so the saying goes.

Science now tells us that we are what the bacteria living in our intestinal tract eat and this could have an influence on how well we age.

In a recent study, McGill University scientists fed fruit flies with a combination of probiotics and an herbal supplement called Triphala.

The food was able to prolong the flies’ longevity by 60 % and protect them against chronic diseases associated with aging.

The finding adds to a growing body of evidence of the influence that gut bacteria can have on health.

The scientists also found reduced traits of aging in the flies, such as mounting insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress.

The team suggests that probiotics dramatically change the architecture of the gut microbiota, not only in its composition but also in respect to how the foods that we eat are metabolized.

The fruit fly is remarkably similar to mammals with about 70 % similarity in terms of their biochemical pathways, making it a good indicator of what would happen in humans.

The researchers suggest that the effects in humans would likely not be as dramatic, but the results definitely suggest that a diet specifically incorporating Triphala along with these probiotics will promote a long and healthy life.

The authors also say that the findings can be explained by the “gut-brain axis,” a bidirectional communication system between microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract – the microbiota – and the brain.

In the past few years, research has shown the gut-brain axis to be involved in neuropathological changes and a variety of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, neurodegeneration, and even depression.

The herbal supplement used in the study, Triphala, is a formulation made from amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki, fruits used as medicinal plants in Ayurveda, a form of traditional Indian medicine.

Previous research has shown that traditional Indian medicine has an impact on neurodegenerative diseases.

The new study, which includes data filed in a US provisional patent through a company co-founded by the authors, has the potential to impact the field of the microbiome, probiotics and human health.

Satya Prakash, professor of biomedical engineering in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, is the senior author of the study.

The study is published in Scientific Reports.

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Source: Scientific Reports.