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Key Takeaways

  • Abnormal bacteria in the gut have been linked to many health issues including obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease
  • Both animals and people with progeria (a health disease characterized by extremely fast aging) have unhealthy changes in their intestinal bacteria. Specifically, they have increased amounts of Proteobacteria and Cyanobacteria, and a drop in their Verrucomicrobia abundance
  • Centenarians show the opposite changes: they usually have abundant populations of Verrucomicrobia and less Proteobacteria in their gut
  • Stool transplantation in mouse models enhanced health and lifespan in mice with progeria, warranting the need for human research in this field
  • Transplanting just Akkermansia muciniphila bacteria seems to be enough for a positive result

Actions to Consider

  • Taking care of the microflora in your gut is extremely important for your general health and lifespan
  • Both probiotics (healthy bacteria) and prebiotics (fiber, resistant starch, pectin) could be beneficial for promoting healthy gut microflora in general
  • Stool transplantation with Akkermansia muciniphila has been reported to improve health and lifespan in animal models. In theory, supplementing with the bacteria could have a similar effect

The Microbiome and Disease

On average, every human has around 200 g of bacteria in their body.

A great part of them lives in the gastrointestinal tract and is referred to as the intestinal microflora. Abnormal changes in one’s gut microflora may contribute to a wide range of health issues, including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer. 

Recently, studies have reported that having the wrong bacteria in the wrong amounts may contribute to faster aging as well.

Stool transplantation could be a solution to that.

What is this study about?

A study published on July 22 in the Nature Medicine (2019) reported that both mice and people with progeria have unhealthy changes in their intestinal microflora. Progeria is a disease characterized by abnormally fast aging, and people with the condition rarely live past the age of 13. 

Stool transplantation improved health and increased lifespan in animals with progeria. Perhaps, the same approach could be beneficial for humans—not only as a remedy for progeria but also to promote longevity in the general population.

A special kind of transplantation

Also known as fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), stool transplantation consists of moving stool from a healthy donor with healthy microflora into a patient with unhealthy intestinal bacteria. The goal of stool transplantation is to normalize the recipient’s gut microflora.

FMT is still considered to be an experimental treatment. The procedure has been used to treat persistent intestinal infections, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and even Parkinson’s disease.

Non-invasive alternatives

Many people don’t have access to FMT since the procedure is still widely considered an experimental approach. So, what can you do to support your intestinal microflora and promote longevity?

The universal advice is to eat plenty of fiber, fermented dairy products like yogurt and kefir, or consider taking probiotic and prebiotic supplements. The current study noted that transplanting specifically Akkermansia muciniphila was already enough to boost health and lifespan, so it could be wise to look for a supplement with this particular bacteria.

Conclusion

The multitude of bacteria living in the human gut has a huge impact on health and longevity.

For instance, it seems that high levels of Proteobacteria and Cyanobacteria contribute to faster aging. An abundance of Verrucomicrobia, on the other hand, may enhance health and promote longevity. More studies are needed to confirm the effectiveness of stool transplantation in humans. For now, it seems that supplementing with healthy Verrucomicrobia could enhance health and lifespan.

Link to study: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-019-0504-5

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