These ecosystems change as we age, and these changes may put us at risk for age-related diseases. So how can we take good care of them as we age? And can Class A ecosystems prevent disease and help you live a long, healthy life?
It’s a question I’ve been thinking about this week because I know a few people who have been on antibiotics for winter infections. These potentially life-saving drugs kill gut microbes en masse, killing the good ones along with them. How can those who use them best then restore healthy ecosystems?
I met too a recent study Scientists looked at thousands of samples of people’s gut microbial populations to see how they change with age. The standard way to determine what microbes live in a person’s gut is to look at their stool. The idea is that when we have a bowel movement, we flush out a lot of gut bacteria. Scientists can find out what types and strains of bacteria are present in your gut to estimate what’s in your gut.
In this study, a team based at University College Cork in Ireland analyzed data collected from 21,000 human stool samples. These were people from all over the world, including Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa. Nineteen nationalities were represented. All samples were taken from adults aged 18 to 100 years.
The authors of this study wanted to better understand what makes a “good” microbiome, especially as we age. For microbiologists, it was difficult to define. We know that some bacteria produce compounds that are good for our gut. Some help with digestion, while others reduce inflammation.
But when you consider the ecosystem as a whole, things get more complicated. The currently accepted wisdom seems to be that diversity is a good thing—the more microbial diversity, the better. Some scientists believe that unique microbiomes are also beneficial, and that a collection of microbes that differ from the norm can maintain health.
The team looked at how the microbiome of younger people compared to that of older people, and how it changed with age. The scientists also studied how microbial ecosystems are altered by signs of unhealthy aging, such as cognitive decline, frailty and inflammation.
They found that the microbiome changes as we age, and that our gut ecosystems become more unique—it seems that we’re losing the properties of our general “core” microbiome and gravitating toward more. individual.
But that’s not necessarily a good thing. In fact, this peculiarity seems to be linked to unhealthy aging and the development of the aforementioned age-related symptoms, and we’d all rather put it off as long as possible. Just measuring diversity doesn’t tell us much about whether the bugs in our guts are helpful in this regard.
The findings confirm what these researchers and others have seen before, challenging the notion that uniqueness is a good thing. Another team came up with a good analogy called The Anna Karenina Principle of the Microbiome: “All happy microbiomes look alike; Every unhappy microbiome is unhappy in its own way.”
Of course, the big question is: What can we do to maintain a happy microbiome? Will it really help prevent age-related diseases?
There’s a lot of evidence that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fiber is good for the gut. A few years ago, scientists found that after 12 months of a Mediterranean diet rich in olive oil, nuts, legumes and fish, as well as fruits and vegetables, older adults They saw changes in their microbiome that may be beneficial to their health. These changes are associated with a reduced risk of frailty and cognitive decline.
But at the individual level, we can’t be sure what changes to our diet will make. Probiotics are a good example; You can kill millions of microbes, but that doesn’t mean they’ll survive the journey to your gut. Even if they get there, we don’t know if they can nest in existing ecosystems or cause any unwanted disruption. Some microbial ecosystems respond really well to fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, while others may not.
Personally, I like kimchi and sauerkraut. If they’re protecting me from age-related diseases and supporting my microbiome, that’s a microbiome-friendly piece of cake.
For more reading, check out these stories in the Tech Review archives:
A home microbiome test tells you what’s wrong with your stool, but not much more. Found by Emily Mullin.
Industrial-scale fermentation is one technology that is changing the way we produce and prepare food. According to these experts.
Can calorie restriction help you live longer? It seems to work on monkeys By Catherine Burzak In 2009.
Adam Piore himself bravely experimented with calorie restriction To see if it works for people too. Narrative: You could live longer by dieting, but you’d be miserable doing it.
From the web:
Would you pay $15,000 to save your cat’s life? More and more people are turning to expensive surgeries to prolong the lives of their pets. (Atlantic Ocean)
The World Health Organization will now use the term “mpox” instead of “monkey pox.” it will be phased out next year. (WHO)
Technologies that allow scientists to listen to the natural world are making truly amazing discoveries. Who knew that Amazonian sea turtles make over 200 sounds? Do they start making sounds before they hatch? (Guardian)
These recordings are very inspiring for musicians. The whale song is especially famous. (The New Yorker)
Scientists are using tiny worms to diagnose pancreatic cancer. The trial, which began in Japan, could be used in the United States next year. (Reuters)