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What Does Your Gut Say About Healthy Ageing

Intestinal Bacteria

If, like me, you enjoy gobbling up a pack of Actimel often, and in particular if you are ageing, then the good germs in the Actimel could be very friendly to you.

TV adverts say that Actimel boosts your immunity, so that you can run or cycle for a long time and to a long distance, or even go surfing in the winter. Only research will show with numbers how exact the advert is, but the general idea is true – that Actimel could be good for you. But why?

Because the yogurt has Lactobacillus casei, a good gut-friendly bacterium! But it’s not the end answer to have a good immunity or healthy ageing. L. casei is one of many good bacteria that we could find in the form of yogurt somewhere, but hey, why to go elsewhere when we have good bacteria already from the good food we eat!

Recent research from Columbia University in New York showed that the researchers’ test on 674 northern Manhattans who are on an average over the age of 80 and did not have dementia. Separated in two groups based on whether they had Mediterranean diets – such as Italian or Greek food – that are rich in fruits, vegetables, olive oil, cereals, and pulses or other diets – potentially with more meat and milk products than average, the researchers studied their brains.

The researchers found that the brains of people who ate Mediterranean diets are much healthier and younger than their counterparts. “These results are exciting, as they raise the possibility that people may potentially prevent brain shrinking and the effects of ageing on the brain simply by following a healthy diet,” the lead author, Yian Gu, told The Guardian last October.

Paul O’Toole, professor of Microbiology at the University College Cork, Ireland recently wrote in the journal Science, that the cocktail of germs in our gut, called the gut microbiota, help us keep ourselves healthy throughout our lives as well as age healthily. “One of the biggest modifiers to the microbiota is the diet” O’Toole told the Science podcast.

So what is the connection between Yian Gu’s study, O’Toole’s statement, and my reference to Actimel? Just one thing – keeping our gut bacteria good and active with proper diet! You don’t need to drink Actimel, but just a plain yogurt if you can make it at home. But a healthy diet is important too, as it keeps our gut bacteria from going astray.

How can they go astray? Simply, if we have runs to the toilet, we lose volumes of water and the bacteria from our digestive tract would be washed out. Taking certain medications would alter the gut germ population as well. O’Toole told the Science podcast that keeping ourselves physically inactive as well will change the gut germs – which mean frailty, obesity, and inflammation at an early age.

O’Toole said in a lecture, “[Our research] suggest a relationship between diet, microbiota and health status, and that modulation of the microbiota by dietary adjustment could be used to promote healthy aging”.

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