Many dream of living to be 100 years old, but not everyone gets there. It seems only a lucky few know the secret recipe, until now. After all, Danish researchers have found how we can live longer, and it has to do with our gut.
After a study of 176 Japanese centenarians, researchers at the University of Copenhagen discovered that they had a special mix of gut bacteria that better protected them against infections. That unique bacterial combination may explain why they live longer than others.
Diversity of intestinal bacteria protects against old age
The 100-year-old Japanese studied showed a wide variety of both bacteria and bacterial viruses in their gut. That may not sound good, but it is. Certain viruses in the intestines are beneficial for the intestinal flora and therefore for our health, according to the study. “Someone with a high diversity of bacteria usually has a healthy microbiome ( all the bacteria in your gut red.)”, explains associate professor Simon Rasmussen. “We expect that individuals with a healthy microbiome are better protected against age-related diseases.” As a result, a person can live longer.
Using a specially developed algorithm, the researchers succeeded in mapping the intestinal bacteria and bacterial viruses. Among other things, they want to see how these bacteria interact with each other and how they can then develop a microbiome that helps them to live a healthy and long life.
So in order for people to live longer, scientists must find a way to replicate that bacterial diversity. In this way, common (age-related) diseases can be combated. “Intestinal bacteria are a natural part of the human body,” says Professor Rasmussen. “The crazy thing is that we can effectively change its composition. Genes, on the other hand, don’t, at least not for a long time.”
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