We know the bacteria in the gut influence overall health, but what about longevity and healthy aging? In this study by McGill University, scientists found that a combination formula of probiotics and the herbal supplement Triphala might be the secret to longevity. When scientists fed fruit flies with a combination of probiotics and an Ayurvedic supplement Triphala, they prolonged the flies’ longevity by 60 % and protected them against chronic diseases associated with aging. Full text available at the end of this summary.
The novel probiotic and synbiotic formulations showed combinatorial action on reducing markers of physiological stress, oxidative stress, inflammation and mitochondrial ETC complex integrity therefore targeting most of the main aging mechanisms.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, titled Longevity extension in Drosophila through gut-brain communication adds to a growing body of evidence of the influence that gut bacteria can have on health. But this study found a symbiotic benefit of – made of probiotics with a polyphenol-rich supplement – into the diet of fruit flies. The flies fed with the synbiotic lived up to 66 days old – 26 days more than the ones without the supplement. They also showed reduced traits of aging, such as mounting insulin resistance, inflammation and oxidative stress.
“Probiotics dramatically change the architecture of the gut microbiota, not only in its composition but also in respect to how the foods that we eat are metabolized,” says Satya Prakash, professor of biomedical engineering in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and senior author of the study. “This allows a single probiotic formulation to simultaneously act on several biochemical signaling pathways to elicit broad beneficial physiological effects, and explains why the single formulation we present in this paper has such a dramatic effect on so many different markers.”
The researchers in found the following benefits of the probiotic and prebiotic formula:
2. Fatty acid metabolism benefited from supplementation of the probiotic and synbiotic formulation in aging Drosophila melanogaster
The researchers note that though the fruit fly is remarkably similar to mammals with about 70 % similarity in terms of their biochemical pathways, the effects on humans would likely be positive but less significant statistically. “The effects in humans would likely not be as dramatic, but our results definitely suggest that a diet specifically incorporating Triphala along with these probiotics will promote a long and healthy life,” said Prakash.
The study used a combination probiotic formulation of Lactobacillus plantarum NCIMB 8826 (Lp8826), Lactobacillus fermentum NCIMB 5221 (Lf5221) and Bifidobacteria longum spp infantis, NCIMB 702255 (Bi702255). The authors are founders of Proviva Pharma, a research, marketing and development company for probiotics. They say that the findings can be explained by the “gut-brain axis,” a bidirectional communication system between microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract – the microbiota – and the brain. In the past few years, studies have shown the gut-brain axis to be involved in neuropathological changes and a variety of conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, neurodegeneration and even depression. Few studies, however, have successfully designed gut microbiota-modulating therapeutics having effects as potent or broad as the formulation presented in the new study.
What is Triphala?
The herbal supplement Triphala is a formulation made from amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki, fruits used as medicinal plants in Ayurveda, a form of traditional Indian medicine.
Susan Westfall, a former PhD student at McGill and lead author of the study, says the idea of combining Triphala and probiotics comes from her long-standing interest in studying natural products derived from traditional Indian medicine and their impact on neurodegenerative diseases.
“At the onset of this study, we were hopeful that combining Triphala with probiotics would be at least a little better than their individual components in terms of physiological benefit, but we did not imagine how successful this formulation would be,” says Westfall, who is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, USA.
Considering the broad physiological effects of this formulation shown in the fruit fly, Prakash hopes their formulation could have interesting applications in a number of human disorders such as diabetes, obesity, neurodegeneration, chronic inflammation, depression, irritable bowel syndrome and even cancer.
In the present study, an optimized probiotic formulation containing three bioactive probiotics was combined with a novel polyphenol-rich prebiotic Triphala to create a novel synbiotic formulation that promotes longevity. The synbiotic formulation has a combinatorial effect on various markers of aging including the basic signaling pathways that manage the cross-regulation of these markers. By understanding how the gut microbiota and probiotic treatments intersect with these key aging pathways, specific formulations may be prescribed early in life to prevent chronic disease onset including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer and even neurodegeneration.
Note: The new study, which includes data filed in a US provisional patent through a company cofounded by the authors, has the potential to impact the field of the microbiome, probiotics and human health.