Study Finds New Key To Longevity — And It's In The Gut

mbg Editorial Assistant By Christina Coughlin
mbg Editorial Assistant
Christina Coughlin is an editorial assistant at mindbodygreen. She graduated from Georgetown University in 2019 with a degree in psychology and music.

Image by Lyuba Burakova / Stocksy

Having a healthy gut should always be a priority when dealing with any health-related issues. It's connected to various problems like IBS, asthma, thyroid disorders, and even diabetes. A new study, however, is giving us another reason to promote gut health—and we're excited about it.

Using mice, an international research team has discovered a specific microorganism living in the gut that may affect the aging process.

Increasing neurogenesis in young mice.

The research team was able to extract and transplant the gut microbes from 24-month-old mice into six-week-old mice. Researchers studied the younger mice to see how this new bacteria would affect them and discovered that it was beneficial. After eight weeks, the young mice showed an increase in intestinal growth and production of neurons in the brain, both necessary components of healthy aging. 

Researchers discovered that the reason for this growth was due to butyrate, a specific short-chain fatty acid that is produced by gut microbes.

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But why butyrate?

Butyrate is produced in the lower intestine and is responsible for creating a pro-longevity hormone called FGF21. It also assists with regulation of the intestine and reduces inflammation. This research highlights the importance of the fatty acid and shows how gut microbes can positively affect the aging process. 

While we are aware of the importance of gut health, the identification of butyrate as a critical component is key, especially because of its potential effects on longevity.

Dario Riccardo Valenzano, Ph.D., says of the study, "These results are exciting and raise several new open questions for both biology of aging and microbiome research."

What's next?

The results of this study indicate a direction toward more food-based treatments to slow down aging. The team at NTU Singapore plans to do more research testing the effects of food products containing butyrate on aging and further explore food as a healing method.

According to leader of the study Sven Peterson, Ph.D., "This is a surprising and very interesting observation, especially since we can mimic the neuro-stimulatory effect by using butyrate alone. These results will lead us to explore whether butyrate might support repair and rebuilding in situations like stroke, spinal damage and to attenuate accelerated aging and cognitive decline."

It's always good to hear about ways to promote overall health, and this discovery leads to many possibilities for future methods to increase longevity. Any simple way to healthy aging is one we'd like to hear!

Ready to learn how to fight inflammation and address autoimmune disease through the power of food? Join our 5-Day Inflammation Video Summit with mindbodygreen’s top doctors.

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