There has been a considerable amount of research lately as to the benefits of ‘good’ gut bacteria, which is supported by prebiotics and probiotics. A new study recently performed by the Buck Institute for Research on Aging now reveals that increasing your amount of healthy gut bacteria may also lead to a longer life.
In the words of lead author, Dr. Heinrich Jasper, “our study explores age-related changes in the gut that include increased oxidative stress, inflammation, impaired efficiency of the immune response, and the over-proliferation of stem cells. It puts these changes into a hierarchical, causal relationship and highlights the points where we can intervene to rescue the negative results of microbial imbalance.”
The researchers performed their experiments on fruit flies, which have been observed to have a dramatic increase in intestinal bacteria as they age. According to Dr. Jasper and his team, this bacterial overload causes inflammation, which then leads to the production of free radicals. The free radicals, in turn, cause an overproduction of stem cells in the guts of the flies, which leads to a precancerous condition called epithelial dysplasia.
When the researchers experimented with the increased expression of certain genes, which restored a healthy balance of gut bacteria, they found that the fruit flies lived longer. Dr. Jasper stated that understanding the effects of aging on the gut bacteria relationship, “first in the fly and then in humans” may make it possible to, “impact health span and life span quite strongly, because it is the management of the commensal population that is critical to the health of the organism.”
Previous research has suggested that negative gut bacteria changes are associated with a number of chronic conditions, including inflammatory bowel disease and certain cancers. The researchers are hoping to develop new technologies to shift the balance of gut bacteria towards the good in order to slow the aging process.
However, for most people, keeping a healthy gut environment is as simple as eating the right foods, and avoiding inflammatory ones. Including probiotic and prebiotic foods in your diet, such as organic kimchi and other naturally fermented foods, pastured yogurt and kefir, artichokes and dark, leafy greens, can give your good gut bacteria the boost that it needs.
Avoiding processed foods entirely, and limiting dairy and red meats (especially processed meat and dairy), can also help keep your gut balanced, for a healthier, and potentially longer life.
-The Alternative Daily