When we think of aging, we typically imagine grey hair, wrinkly skin, and age spots. But there are also a ton of physiological changes humans go through while they age. And unfortunately, everyone knows these changes are inevitable–but are they really?
Scientists have discovered something that can actually reverse the effects of aging, and the answer lies right in our gut.
Scientists have been studying the gut microbiome for years. They have recently discovered that on top of the expected gut duties, these trillions of bacteria also play a significant role in your brain health and the onset of age-related chronic conditions. According to a recent study these scientists performed on mice, they claim "the gut microbiota is increasingly recognized as an important regulator of host immunity and brain health." Meaning our gut is doing a lot more work than we give it credit.
You may be thinking, 'Okay, so my gut helps my brain. What's the big deal?' What they found during this experiment WAS a big deal–groundbreaking, even. Let's take a look at their findings and what they could mean for the future of aging:
What is a microbiome?
First, we need to take a look at how this microbiome affects our health and brain. According to a scientific letter from the Transitional Medicine of Aging, our intestinal tract directly interacts with foreign antigens and is covered with microorganisms, the gut microbiome. They explain that a healthy gut has microbial communities that maintain a steady metabolism and help prevent an immune response to unwanted substances. On the other hand, an unhealthy gut can be associated with age-related chronic diseases, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and more. An unhealthy gut can even cause depression and other mental health conditions.
Not only does this show us that our gut affects our physical and mental health, but it can predispose us to certain age-related chronic diseases and conditions. Although this may seem scary, scientists say that promoting a healthy gut can help slow this process down and promote healthy aging. Furthermore, the recent study mentioned above on aging in mice has made groundbreaking progress, and the scientists involved say, "by restoring health in the microbiome we're able to reverse age-related cognitive deficits.”
That's right, reverse aging.
Test and results
The scientists involved in this experiment transplanted the gut microorganisms from healthy young mice into older mice. They found that transferring certain ones from the young to the old considerably changes the mental and physical health of the old mice–for the better. Some of the results from these types of experiments reached outcomes including improved locomotive, longevity, reduce weight gain and obesity, and the promotion of a healthy immune system.
Does this mean there's a possibility that we will be able to slow down the believed-to-be inevitable signs of aging and reduce our risk of chronic illness? These scientists think so, even going as far as to say, "In a nutshell, these evidences suggest that the gut microbiota may be associated with inflammaging and age-related chronic health conditions, and hence could be exploited as a putative target to ameliorate the aging process."
How to improve your gut health (without transferring your microbiome with a young mouse)
Although this groundbreaking news is exciting, it's going to take a lot more experiments, studies, and years of research to reach a point where humans can safely participate. So how do we keep our gut microbiome healthy in the present and future?
The microbiome in your gut is formed at birth and stays relatively stable until adulthood. And the "healthiness" of a microbiome differs between each person, depending on many things such as your Body Mass Index (BMI), exercise level, and dietary habits. Due to the vast differences between individuals' gut health, you can take specific steps and precautions to keep yours healthy and active, like eating a healthy, well-rounded diet, exercising frequently, etc. This will not only make you feel great and maybe even youthful, but studies show it will also help your gut to "optimally perform metabolic and immune functions and prevent disease development." As if we needed another reason to start living an active lifestyle!
If you're looking to slow down the signs of aging or prevent them in the future, your best bet right now is to try and lead an active and healthy lifestyle. Of course, the occasional treat won't hurt, but think about your future self and do it for them. A great way to start your health and wellness journey and stay on track is with the help of the FitTrack Dara. With over 800,000 users worldwide, and 17 health insights like weight, BMR, and BMI, Dara's got you covered.