It seems like we learn something new about the importance of gut health every day. According to one of the most recent studies, maintaining a balanced microbiome can help us see our 100th birthday (and beyond) thanks to one specific type of good gut bacteria.
Research published in the journal Nature looked at the gut microbiomes of 160 individuals over the age of 100. They compared those to 112 others between the ages of 85 and 89, and 47 people between 21 and 55.
The study authors found the over 100 group had a “signature” bacteria not found in the younger participants known as Odoribacteraceae. Its presence produced significantly higher levels of a secondary bile called isoallolithocholic acid, which inhibited the growth of “bad” bacterias that cause health issues.
These findings are an exciting start in unlocking more keys to longevity, but the authors note more research needs to be done. At this point, they aren’t sure whether the healthy bacteria is only developed in individuals after they’ve reached 100, if it’s related to the type of diet they follow, or perhaps inherited from family members.
A previous study from 2019 found similarly promising results while looking at the balance of various good versus bad bacteria in the microbiomes of centenarians. Although they didn’t list the same specific Odoribacteraceae, there’s a clear correlation between maintaining gut health and boosting longevity that’s expected to grow as more research emerges.
We also know that a balanced microbiome can provide countless other benefits, such as healthy thyroid function, improved immunity and digestion, and warding off heart disease. It’s no surprise that the Mediterranean diet, which is famous for promoting longer lifespans, also happens to be great for gut health. Improving our chances of living past 100 is just another amazing reason to make sure we’re eating plenty of prebiotic foods and fiber-rich meals.