More and more research is being done all the time to discover the importance of gut bacteria to overall health. Whereas once the gut was all but ignored, the huge amount of biodiversity within our guts is increasingly becoming a topic of study. And more and more evidence is pointing to the importance of a healthy gut to overall health.
Recent research undertaken to look into the importance of gut health has discovered that a healthy gut is also important to maintaining health during old age. Looking at mice, researchers found that just housing older mice with younger mice was enough to improve the gut health of the older mice. Of course, that’s because mice eat each other’s droppings, something that human beings don’t do.
Mice that received fecal transplants from younger mice also experienced significant benefits to their gut health. While that also sounds gross, it’s been done before in human beings. It’s especially beneficial to those whose immune systems have been suppressed through strong antibiotics, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, etc. Beneficial bacteria from feces have been transplanted into those immunocompromised patients to great effect.
All of this makes it clear that having a healthy gut is vitally important in old age. As the mouse research showed, older mice suffered declines in immune function due to changes in their gut. The ability for their gut bacteria and immune cells to communicate deteriorated, but was restored upon being housed with younger mice. Assuming that the same findings were to translate to human beings, that would mean that declines in gut health aren’t irreversible, and that some of the same treatments used to help the mice might also be helpful in human beings.
If you’re concerned about your gut health and minimizing damage to your gut microflora, you can take concrete steps to keep your gut healthy. Eating fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, unpasteurized beer, kombucha, and others can help keep the bacteria in your gut healthy and working to keep you healthy too.