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How to Stay Healthy Until You Are 105 – It is in Your Gut Graphic © healthpowerboost.com. Background photo: Pixabay (PD)
We can’t stop the passage of time. But there are steps you can take to slow your biological age to live a longer, healthier life. Aging healthily and gracefully is possible—and it may start with taking care of your gut.
Researchers have long suspected that the bacteria in your gut may play a role in successful aging. Case in point, a Russian zoologist known as Elie Metchnikoff theorized that manipulating the intestinal microbiome could delay age-related health decline and enhance health over a century ago. 
As covered in this article, emerging studies are increasingly drawing a clearer picture of the link between a healthy gut and longevity. In an interview with Tom Bilyeu on the Health Theory show, Dr. Steven Gundry—a cardiothoracic surgeon, researcher, and author—explains how the gut microbiome impacts aging and vice versa. “Aging to me is either the quick or slow breakdown of the gut wall”, he says.
Here’s what you need to know:
The Link Between The Gut And Longevity
Inside your intestinal tract are a unique and complex community of bacteria and other microorganisms (microbiome) that interact with your body systems. It’s believed that the microbiome follows a predictable pattern throughout your life. It undergoes rapid change until age 3 and stabilizes to middle age before accelerating again into late adulthood.
Dr. Gundry argues that the state of your gut microbiome can be a predictor of how well you age—and research seems to back his claim. A 2020 systematic review suggests that the gut microbiome “lies at the core of many age-associated changes, including immune system dysregulation and susceptibility to diseases.” 
Similarly, a study published in Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology claims that cellular and molecular hallmarks of chronological aging, such as loss of homeostasis and impaired function, are accompanied by changes in the microbiome—which in turn influences the rate of cognitive and physical decline. 
Research suggests we pay particular attention to the diversity of the gut microbiome.
According to a study supported by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the level of changes in gut microbiome patterns as we age may be connected to increased survival rates and overall healthy aging. 
The researchers collected data from a sample of over 9,000 individuals between the age of 18 and 101. They found that the composition of the gut microbiome tends to change as we get older. And the more unique the patterns of change, the better the health and longevity outcomes. 
People who had relatively static microbiomes as they got older tended to experience poorer health and were almost as likely to die. They had lower levels of vitamin D, were less active, and had higher levels of cholesterol and triglycerides.
On the other hand, individuals who experienced the most changes in their microbiome composition and had high microbial diversity reported longer life spans and better health. They also had higher levels of metabolites, such as indoles and phenylacetylglutamine.  These metabolites are linked to reduced inflammation, protection from stresses in old age, resistance to disease, and youthful vigor. 
A diverse gut microbiome also helps you maintain the integrity of the protective barrier that lines your gut.  The researchers from the NIA-backed study found that the prevalence of a species of bacteria known as Bacteroides dropped in old age.
Bacteroides tend to eat the protective mucus layer lining your gut. This may not be an issue when you’re younger, and there’s a lot of mucus. But as the mucus layer gets thin with age, the microbes can chew through it—triggering an immune response and chronic inflammation. Interestingly, research suggests that Bacteroides are more prevalent among people who eat a lot of processed foods—and less prevalent in populations that eat a high-fiber diet. 
How To Improve Your Gut Microbiome
The function and composition of the gut microbiome appear to be shaped in part by environmental and lifestyle factors—including quality of diet, physical activity, medication intake, and even social networks.  With this in mind, here are some ways to improve your gut microbiome for longevity:
• Diet: It goes without saying that what you eat impacts the composition and diversity of your gut microbiome. Research suggests you eat a diverse range of foods that are high in fiber and fermented foods—while curbing your intake of sugar and sweeteners. 
• Physical Activity: Regular exercise is associated with a more diverse and healthier gut microbiome. 
• Don’t Take Antibiotics Unnecessarily: Antibiotics may be crucial to combating infections, but overuse can be a concern. They contribute to gut microbial imbalance.  It’s also often advised to follow up a course of antibiotics with probiotics as these may help replenish the beneficial flora that are destroyed along with harmful pathogens.
• Improve Sleep Quality: A good night’s sleep can improve gut health, cognition, and mood. On the hand, poor sleep quality can negatively impact the gut flora and increase the risk of inflammation. 
Conclusion: If you want to enjoy a long, healthy life, research suggests that you should start paying more attention to your gut. Think about your gut microbiome as you eat, exercise, and go about your everyday life. It may be the key to longevity and great health.
 Mackowiak, P. A. (2013). Recycling Metchnikoff: probiotics, the intestinal microbiome and the quest for long life. Frontiers in public health, 1, 52: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpubh.2013.00052/full
 Badal, V. D., Vaccariello, E. D., Murray, E. R., Yu, K. E., Knight, R., Jeste, D. V., & Nguyen, T. T. (2020). The gut microbiome, aging, and longevity: a systematic review. Nutrients, 12(12), 3759: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33297486/
 Ghosh, T. S., Shanahan, F., & O’Toole, P. W. (2022). The gut microbiome as a modulator of healthy ageing. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 1-20: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41575-022-00605-x
 Wilmanski, T., Diener, C., Rappaport, N., Patwardhan, S., Wiedrick, J., Lapidus, J., … & Price, N. D. (2021). Gut microbiome pattern reflects healthy ageing and predicts survival in humans. Nature metabolism, 3(2), 274-286: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33619379/
 Sonowal, R., Swimm, A., Sahoo, A., Luo, L., Matsunaga, Y., Wu, Z., … & Kalman, D. (2017). Indoles from commensal bacteria extend healthspan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 114(36), E7506-E7515: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.1706464114
 Collino, S., Montoliu, I., Martin, F. P. J., Scherer, M., Mari, D., Salvioli, S., … & Rezzi, S. (2013). Metabolic signatures of extreme longevity in northern Italian centenarians reveal a complex remodeling of lipids, amino acids, and gut microbiota metabolism. PloS one, 8(3), e56564: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23483888/
 Markowiak, P., & Śliżewska, K. (2017). Effects of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics on human health. Nutrients, 9(9), 1021: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5622781/
 Palmnäs, M. S., Cowan, T. E., Bomhof, M. R., Su, J., Reimer, R. A., Vogel, H. J., … & Shearer, J. (2014). Low-dose aspartame consumption differentially affects gut microbiota-host metabolic interactions in the diet-induced obese rat. PloS one, 9(10), e109841: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25313461/
 Castro‐Mejía, J. L., Khakimov, B., Krych, Ł., Bülow, J., Bechshøft, R. L., Højfeldt, G., … & Nielsen, D. S. (2020). Physical fitness in community‐dwelling older adults is linked to dietary intake, gut microbiota, and metabolomic signatures. Aging Cell, 19(3), e13105: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31967716/
 Dudek-Wicher, R. K., Junka, A., & Bartoszewicz, M. (2018). The influence of antibiotics and dietary components on gut microbiota. Gastroenterology Review/Przegląd Gastroenterologiczny, 13(2), 85-92: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6040098/
 Voigt, R. M., Forsyth, C. B., Green, S. J., Mutlu, E., Engen, P., Vitaterna, M. H., … & Keshavarzian, A. (2014). Circadian disorganization alters intestinal microbiota. PloS one, 9(5), e97500: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4029760/
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