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Do you want to age healthy? Think about your microbiota

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Do you want to age healthy?  Think about your microbiota

The hair turns gray, the wrinkles become deeper, the joints creak, the heart begins to have some aches. The passing of time affects our body. But there are people who, in spite of their age, seem not to care about the passing years. Of course, what is written in the DNA counts, good habits at the table, movement, few diseases and consequent therapies. But perhaps the composition of the gut bacteria population also plays an important role in defining a healthy third age. Because the microbiota also ages and changes naturally.

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But we can do something to keep it fit, even in old age. How? By nourishing ourselves with intelligence, favoring fiber and whole foods, taking advantage of the benefits of prebiotics that we can find in simple foods, such as onions or apples. Without forgetting the polyphenols of fruit, in particular of berries, kefir and yogurt that introduce “good” bacteria into an invisible megalopolis that is constantly changing, and extra virgin olive oil. Obviously without accessing the total calories and fat.

The importance of the mix of bacteria

Thus, with a few simple rules, we can try to keep the invisible organ that regulates our well-being “in shape”. And not only in the intestine: it affects inflammation, acts on the immune response, helps us to produce enzymes and energy. The list would be very long, but the most numerous bacteria count as well as the “mixing” between different species, with those with positive action dominating. Even in old age. A research that appeared on Nature Reviews Gastroenterology ed Epatologycoordinated by Paul W. O’Tooleof the National University of Ireland at Cork.

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The bacteria of good aging

The study examined a series of surveys conducted around the world, including Italy, which correlated specific characteristics of the microbiota with well-being in old age. In the first place it was found that a bacterial population is particularly rich in such strains Akkermansia in the third age it is more frequent in subjects who reach the age of one hundred, although not necessarily in a good state of health. But above all, thanks to the analysis, we have come to understand that there are real general “identikits” of the intestinal bacterial flora able to be associated with a long and healthy third age or rather with an old age full of ailments.

The three profiles linked to bacteria

In particular, three profiles have been defined. The first, potentially positive, is characterized by a progressive decline with age of such bacteria Bifidobacterium and is associated with healthy aging. The second is instead associated with a third age that is not really healthy: in this case, strains that have a negative action on the organism predominate or in any case appear potentially linked to possible diseases such as Streptococcus o Actinomyces.

The role of drugs

But it must also be said that in this invisible “megalopolis” genetic components have also been identified involved in the metabolism of drugs, perhaps used to deal with pathologies. The third group, still with positive connotations, is characterized by a large presence of Akkermansia: the presence of these bacteria tends to increase with age when one is well and fit, but drops drastically if the elderly becomes frail due to chronic diseases and / or undergoes cognitive decline and inflammatory phenomena.

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What happens and what we can do

The protective action in the subjects of the strains associated with good aging appears linked in particular to butyric acid, synthesized by the microbiota, which counteracts the onset of neurological problems and metabolic alterations. On the contrary, when the bacteria that are associated with an unhealthy senescence prevail, the microbiota would tend more easily to create metabolic products such as trimethylamine, which could have a negative role for the well-being of the heart and arteries, or compounds that adversely affect the Cellular DNA.

The close link between bacteria and lifestyle

“The study confirms one fundamental thing: bacteria live, grow and change with us – he explains Lorenzo MorelliDirector of the Department of Food Science and Technology of the Catholic University of Cremona – the composition of the microbiota changes over the years and there is an important link between our lifestyle and intestinal bacteria, in terms of general health, just think of the ‘obesity and metabolic problems that are linked to many frailties “.

Chicken or egg first?

Let’s be clear: it is not known whether the chicken or the egg is born first, or if a mutating microbiota is at the origin of these conditions or is only the consequence. But it is certain that today it is possible to have information unthinkable until recently, such as the study of strict anaerobic bacteria such as those of the strain Akkermansia, with protective action. For all of us, however, it is on the front of nutrition and prebiotics that we must act, providing “food” that favors the development of “good” inhabitants in our digestive tract.

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Pasta but cooked al dente

“To encourage the growth of these strains – specifies Morelli – it is useful to focus on an” Italian “diet pasta, cooked al dente, allows to have a resistant starch that pushes specific components of the microbiota such as these strains. The ideal would be a bean sauce (therefore the classic pasta and beans with a pinch of oil as a main dish), which has a similar action. Without exceeding the threshold of two glasses a day, red wine can be useful. And finally, a small square of dark chocolate as long as it contains a lot of cocoa, useful nourishment for the “good” bacteria.

Doesn’t the pressure go down? Attention (also) to the microbiota

by Federico Mereta

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