Recently published research by a group of scientists has revealed that gut bacteria may impact the rate of aging experienced by humans.
The intricate environment of the human gut hosts billions of microorganisms, forming a vital ecosystem that actively contributes to the preservation of an individual’s well-being.
New research featured in the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience reveals that the array of microorganisms present in the gut might exert an impact beyond just physical well-being, extending to the rate of aging as well.
Study examines gut bacteria and its impact on the rate of aging
The research was conducted by a team at the Hungarian University of Sports Science. The findings might provide prospects for utilizing probiotics’ potential in enhancing health and extending longevity, as highlighted by Professor Zsolt Radak, the study’s principal investigator.
Operating from Budapest, Radak and his team delved into the interplay between the diversity of the gut microbiome, biological age (which reflects our overall health state rather than our chronological age), and the physical fitness of a cohort comprising 80 amateur rowers.
For the study’s purposes, each participant underwent a battery of fitness evaluations and submitted stool samples for the analysis of their gut bacteria. Furthermore, blood samples were collected to ascertain their biological age through the scrutiny of epigenetic markers.
Epigenetic markers function akin to switches within our DNA, capable of determining the activation or deactivation of specific genes. They wield a pivotal role in shaping the development, functionality, and responsiveness of our cells to environmental cues.
Factors encompassing lifestyle, diet, and exposure to the environment can influence the quality of our cells, thereby influencing our overall health and the aging process.
Epigenetic markers serve as tools for gauging this cellular decline, offering a glimpse into our “epigenetic clocks,” often referred to as our “biological age.”
The discoveries propose a pivotal connection among gut microbes, inflammation, physical fitness, and the aging progression, countering the prevailing notion that a greater quantity of bacteria equates to enhanced health, according to Radak.
Nevertheless, the study refrained from establishing a definitive cause-and-effect relationship. It’s plausible that the seemingly healthier dietary preferences of athletes could be positively influencing the proliferation of beneficial gut bacteria.
That being said, Radak was keen to stress during an interview with Euronews that “these bacteria do not relate to chronological aging. Which I think is a pretty interesting observation because it means that these bacteria are actually involved in DNA methylation aging [epigenetic aging], [and are hence] not the result of [chronological] aging.”
The implication, therefore, is that inflammatory gut bacteria, when present in high quantities, is linked to faster aging.