Is the gut microbiota a good indicator of longevity?

The older we get, the more unique our gut microbiota becomes. This uniqueness seems to predict healthy ageing and longer life expectancy among the elderly. All good reasons to pamper your microbiota!

In ancient times, the haruspex1 read the future in the entrails of sacrificed animals. In the near future, we may be able to predict the length of our life by reading our own entrails. So suggests a recent study of the gut microorganisms of more than 9,000 individuals aged between 18 and 101 years.

An increasingly unique gut microbiota

The first finding of this study is that from our forties the gut microbiota becomes increasingly unique to each individual. This uniqueness goes hand in hand with microbial markers recognized as beneficial in terms of immunity, inflammation, aging and longevity. Moreover, life expectancy is reduced by four years in people aged 80 and over who retain a high dominance of bacteria of the Bacteroides genus and/or who have low gut microbiome uniqueness. These results can be considered all the more solid since they were observed in three demographically distinct study groups.

Compounds that increase life expectancy?


The second finding of the study was a link between the gut signature of individuals that enjoy healthy aging and blood metabolites produced by the bacteria of the gut microbiota. For example, degradation products of amino acids tryptophan and phenylalanine were identified. Interestingly, some metabolites had already been observed in the blood of centenarians but not in that of healthy young individuals. Others, such as indole, had already been shown to have a role in extending life expectancy in numerous animal models. Therefore, aging could be characterized by a modification of the gut flora’s activity, which no longer produces exclusively specific molecules. It can’t be said enough: taking good care of your gut microbiota throughout life contributes to longevity and good health. Now you can’t say you didn’t know…

 1Priest and seer responsible for predicting the future and interpreting the will of the gods by examining the entrails of certain animals.

Sources:

Wilmanski T, Diener C, Rappaport N, et al. Gut microbiome pattern reflects healthy ageing and predicts survival in humans. Nat Metab. 2021 Feb;3(2):274-286.