Researchers say that your gut microbiome – the trillion strong community of microorganisms in your stomach – can help predict whether you have a long and healthy life.
U.S. researchers have identified various signatures in the gut microbiome that are associated with healthy or unhealthy aging pathways.
In healthy individuals, intestinal microbiomes become increasingly unique and diverge in different ways that are specific to the individual, compared to unhealthy individuals.
This uniqueness is strongly associated with microbially produced amino acid derivatives circulating in the blood, suggesting life-prolonging chemicals.
This knowledge means that microbiomes can be used to predict survival in a population of older individuals, according to experts.
The human microbiome consists of communities of bacteria (and viruses and fungi). Data from more than 9,000 people reveal a clear gut microbiome signature associated with healthy aging and survival in the last decades of life
WHAT IS THE INTESTINE MADE OF?
There are 300 to 500 different types of bacteria inside your gut that contain almost 2 million genes.
Paired with other small organisms such as viruses and fungi, they do what is called microbiota.
As a fingerprint, each person’s microbiota is unique: the mixture of bacteria in your body is different from everyone else’s mixture.
It is determined in part by the mother’s microbiota – the environment you are exposed to at birth – and in part by your diet and lifestyle.
The bacteria live throughout your body, but those in the gut can have the greatest impact on your well-being.
They stretch your entire digestive system. Most people live in the intestines and colon.
There is evidence that it affects everything from your metabolism to your mood to the immune system.
Researchers say that the adult intestinal microbiome continues to develop in old age in healthy individuals, but not in unhealthy ones.
In addition, microbiome compositions associated with health in early to mid-adulthood may not be compatible with health in late adulthood.
‘Previous results in microbiome aging research appear to be inconsistent, with some reports showing a decline in the nuclear gut in centenary populations, while others show relative stability of the microbiome until the onset of aging-related declines in health,’ the study said. author Dr. Sean Gibbons at the Institute for Systems Biology in the United States.
‘Our work, which is the first to contain a detailed analysis of health and survival, can resolve these discrepancies. In particular, we show two different aging paths.
‘One, a decrease in nuclear microbes and a concomitant increase in uniqueness in healthier individuals, in line with previous results in community-dwelling centenarians, and two, maintenance of nuclear microbes in less healthy individuals.’
The microbiota is also known as the microbiome – although the latter includes the collective genomes of microorganisms in a particular environment, as well as the microorganisms themselves.
The intestinal microbiome is an integral part of the body, but its significance in the human aging process has been unclear.
The research team analyzed intestinal microbiome, phenotypic and clinical data from more than 9,000 people between the ages of 18 and 101 over three independent cohorts.
The team focused in particular on longitudinal data from a cohort of more than 900 community-dwelling elderly individuals between the ages of 78 and 98, so that they could track health and survival outcomes.
The data showed that intestinal microbiomes became more and more unique and different from other people’s microbiomes as they got older, starting in the middle to late adulthood.
This corresponded to a steady decline in the abundance of nuclear bacterial slaughterers (eg Bacteroides) which tends to be shared across humans.
While microbiomes became increasingly unique to each individual in healthy aging, the metabolic functions were the microbiomes performing common features.
The data showed that intestinal microbiomes became increasingly unique (ie, increasingly different from others) as individuals in age, beginning in mid to late adulthood, which corresponded to a steady decline in the abundance of nuclear bacterial genera (e.g., Bacteroides) such as tend to be shared across people. Depicted in the artist’s impression, Bacteroides fragilis, one of the main components of normal intestinal microbiome
The unique signature of this gut was strongly correlated with several microbially derived metabolites in blood plasma, including one – tryptophan-derived indole – which has previously been shown to prolong the life of mice.
Blood levels of another metabolite – phenylacetylglutamine – showed the strongest association with uniqueness.
Previous work has shown that this metabolite is highly elevated in the blood of people over 100 years of age.
Interestingly, this unique pattern appears to start in mid-life – 40-50 years old – and is associated with a clear metabolic signature in the blood, suggesting that these microbiome changes are not only diagnostic for healthy aging, but that they also can contribute directly to health as we age, ‘said Wilmanski.
The study is published in the journal Nature Metabolism.
A personal diet plan based on healthy plant-based foods and tailored to your gut microbiome can help reduce the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Diets rich in healthy plant-based foods are linked to intestinal microbes that are associated with lower risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, according to a new study.
An international team of researchers led by London analyzed the diet, health and intestinal microbiome of more than 1,100 participants from the United Kingdom and the United States.
The findings suggest that people may be able to optimize their health by choosing the best foods for their unique biology to best alter the intestinal microbiota.
In fact, the team is working on a commercial application, where people will be able to analyze their own gut bacteria and receive customized dietary advice.
‘As a nutritionist, it’s exciting to find new microbes that are linked to specific foods, as well as metabolic health,’ ‘said paper author and nutritionist Sarah Berry of King’s College London.
‘Given the highly personalized composition of each individual’s microbiome, our research suggests that we may be able to modify our gut microbiome to optimize our health by choosing the best foods for our unique biology.’
Read more: Diet plan adapted to your intestinal microbiome can reduce the risk of disease