We have already seen in other studies that our gut flora changes with age, and that this may trigger diseases such as cancer and old-age diabetes (see also -> https://www.gesunde-bakterien.de/wichtige-bakterien-wie-der-darm-unser-leben-bestimmt/). Yet is there a way of influencing the gut flora so that it, as it were, remains young? This could then be the key to a long healthy life.
US scientists testing this theory using fruit flies made an interesting discovery. They found that the bacterial load in the flies’ intestines changes with age, as does the balance between healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the gut. The number of healthy bacteria drops dramatically, resulting in an inflammatory condition, explains Dr. Heinrich Jasper, Professor at the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing in California, in an article in the Daily Mail.
This imbalance was driven by chronic activation of the FOXO gene – a typical symptom of old age. This gene suppresses the activity of a type of molecule which governs the immune system’s response to bacteria. The consequence is an immune deficiency which results in an increase in bacterial numbers, triggering an inflammatory response which generates free radicals. Free radicals, in turn, cause over-production of stem cells, and this eventually lead to cancer.
The research team headed by Dr. Jasper increased production of the regulating molecules in fruit flies’ gut cells, thus restoring the bacterial balance and reducing stem cell growth. This did indeed increase the flies’ lifespan. Applied in the form of drugs, this manipulation of regulative function and, in turn, the gut flora could contribute to greater life expectancy and cancer prevention.
The paper quotes Jasper saying: “If we can understand how ageing affects our [gut bacteria] – first in the fly and then in humans – our data suggest that we should be able to impact health span and life span quite strongly, because it is the management of the [gut bacteria] that is critical to the health of the organism.”