Could your gut hold the secret to living past 100?

Jun 02, 2023
Centenarians are found to have healthier gut microbiomes which may be the reason behind their long life. Source: Getty

It’s no secret that humans have always been captivated by the idea of eternal youth. From silver-screen SciFi’s depicting the fountain of youth to the beauty industry marketing products with the promise of “age-defying” formulas.

But what if the concept of eternal youth and vitality wasn’t just confined to the world of SciFi? In the real world, a recent study may have just sparked newfound hope that the quest to extend our longevity might not be futile.

Researchers from the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen are suggesting that the answer to eternal youth lies deep inside our gut’s microbiome.

In their recently published study, Copenhagen researchers looked at the gut microbiome of 176 healthy Japanese centenarians and found that these individuals carry microbes that were unique in comparison to the rest of the population.

“We are always eager to find out why some people live extremely long lives,” first study author Postdoc Joachim Johansen said.

“Previous research has shown that the intestinal bacteria of old Japanese citizens produce brand-new molecules that make them resistant to pathogenic – that is, disease-promoting – microorganisms. And if their intestines are better protected against infection, well, then that is probably one of the things that cause them to live longer than others.”

Researchers explained that having a diverse intestinal flora meant these centenarians had new, protective bacterial viruses which helped stave off ageing-related diseases.

“We found great biological diversity in both bacteria and bacterial viruses in the centenarians. High microbial diversity is usually associated with a healthy gut microbiome. And we expect people with a healthy gut microbiome to be better protected against ageing-related diseases,” Johansen explained.

Johansen adds that more research needs to be conducted to fully understand the intestinal flora of centenarians to better understand how to increase the life expectancy of other people.

Health experts say increasing vegetable and fibre intake can improve gut health. Source: Getty

In recent years, gut health has become a major buzzword and one of the most talked-about trends in the wellness community.

With research showing how our gut microbiome affects not only our digestive system but also our mood, metabolism, and even our immune system, it’s no wonder why gut health is all the rage. However, 40 per cent of people over the age of 60 experience one or more age-related digestive symptoms each year.

Symptoms associated with gut disease can include heartburn, a loss of appetite and a build-up of gas. Worryingly, these symptoms are often associated with other age-related diseases, which is why it’s important to never overlook warning signs. Managing gut health not only has the potential to prevent these conditions and symptoms but can also become a driver for overall health.

Thankfully, simple diet and lifestyle changes and physical activity are often a fast and effective way of managing good gut health in many people.

If you’re experiencing any digestive problems, it’s important to speak to your GP to determine the underlying cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

And if you’re thinking of switching up your diet plan, it’s best to consult with a registered dietitian to ensure that you’re making safe and healthy choices.

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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