Why some people live to be 100 without major health problems

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Scientists are always exploring new ways to help us live longer, healthier lives.

Recently, a team of researchers at the University of Copenhagen has been looking into why some people live to be 100 or even older without major health problems.

Their secret, it turns out, might lie in the mix of tiny lifeforms living in their guts – specifically, bacteria and bacterial viruses.

You might be thinking, “Bacteria and viruses? Aren’t those bad for us?” Often, yes, but not always. Our bodies are full of what’s called “microbes” – tiny living organisms like bacteria and viruses.

We’ve got millions of them, especially in our guts. Most of the time, these microbes are our friends. They help us digest food and protect us from harmful, disease-causing germs.

The team of scientists studied 176 healthy Japanese people who have lived to be at least 100. What they found was really interesting: the mix of bacteria and bacterial viruses in these centenarians was quite unique and incredibly diverse.

This is a good thing, as high diversity usually means a healthier gut.

The researchers also found that certain viruses could have a beneficial effect on the bacteria in our guts.

These viruses infect the bacterial cells and could potentially make them stronger. How? Well, viruses contain extra genes that can boost the bacteria’s ability to transform specific molecules in the intestines.

This process might help to stabilize the gut environment and reduce inflammation, a key factor in many diseases.

This study raises a fascinating possibility. If we could understand and recreate the perfect balance of bacteria and viruses like in these centenarians, perhaps we could help more people live healthier and longer lives.

The next step, the researchers say, is to determine whether all or only some of us have these beneficial bacteria and viruses. If some people lack them, could we introduce these helpful microbes to their guts?

Although there’s a lot more research to be done, this study opens up exciting new possibilities for enhancing human health and longevity. After all, unlike our genes, we can change the composition of our gut microbes.

If we learn why certain viruses and bacteria are beneficial for us, we could potentially use this knowledge to positively impact our health. So, while we might not yet be able to live forever, the quest for a long, healthy life could begin in our bellies!

Their study titled “Centenarians have a diverse gut virome with the potential to modulate metabolism and promote healthy lifespan” has been published in the scientific journal, Nature Microbiology.

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