Microbiome, Herbal Medicine, and Probiotics Combine to Extend Lifespan (2023)

Changes in gut bacteria have been linked with the development of age-related disorders and chronic diseases, and research suggests that targeting the microbiome as part of the gut–brain axis (GBA) may represent a therapeutic approach against some age-related conditions. Scientists at McGill University in Montreal have now shown how a combination of a probiotic formulation and a herbal supplement used in traditional Indian medicine can extend the lifespan of male Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies by 60% and protect against age-related inflammation, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance, as well as improving mitochondrial function.

The researchers, headed by Satya Prakash, Ph.D., a professor of biomedical engineering in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, hope that the combination of probiotics and the prebiotic Triphala formulation could help to prevent or treat human disorders ranging from diabetes and obesity, to neurodegeneration, chronic inflammation, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and perhaps even cancer. They have already filed a provisional U.S. patent and set up a company to continue R&D. “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,” says Dr. Prakash.

(Video) 041. Probiotics and Triphala Extend Lifespan (Guest, Susan Westfall, PhD)

The McGill studies and results are published in Scientific Reports, in a paper entitled “Longevity Extension in Drosophila through Gut-Brain Communication.”

No single theory can adequately explain the processes that are in involved in aging, but the most “robust and experimentally verified method” for increasing lifespan in model organisms is calorie restriction,” the authors write. This suggests that how we assimilate nutrients in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) plays a key role in aging and longevity. Gut microbiota composition is also linked to healthy aging, the authors continue, and while age-related changes in the composition of gut microbiota vary between individuals, in general, “aging subjects have a decline in the phyla Firmicutes, elevation in Bacteriodetes, reduction of Bifidobacteria spp., elevation in the proinflammatory Proteobacteria accompanied by a decline in overall diversity, which is associated with various health risks and fraility.”

The GBA represents a two-way communication system between gut signaling and the brain, which receives metabolic, immunological, endocrine, and neuronal signals directly from bacterial cells and metabolites. “Through this axis, the gut microbiota was recently identified as a target for therapeutic intervention against age-related diseases,” the authors note. In fact, specific strains of probiotic bacteria have shown beneficial effects in managing symptoms of neurodegeneration, improving immunity, reducing low-grade inflammation, and prolonging longevity in mice and the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans. “Clearly, the prolongevity mechanisms of lower organisms’ parallel mammals making Drosophila melanogaster a good model for understanding the impact of probiotic therapy on longevity and the mechanisms of aging.”

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To study the effects of their combined probiotic and synbiotic formulation on D. melanogaster longevity, the McGill team added individual or combined probiotic and synbiotic formulations to the flies’ normal diet, and counted the number of living flies daily for 30 days. The probiotic formulation comprised two Latobacillus and one Bifidobacteria strain, while the polyphenol-rich prebiotic herbal supplement, called Triphala (TFLA), is made from amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki fruits, which are used in traditional Ayurveda medicine.

Drosophila flies fed the control diet had a maximum lifespan of 40 days, whereas flies given a diet including either a probiotic or TFLA had a 14- to 16-day increase in longevity, while flies treated with the probiotic or symbiotic (probiotic plus TFLA) formulations lived for 24 to 26 days longer than the control flies. Treatment with either the probiotic or symbiotic formulations was also associated with reductions in total weight in aging flies, and better control of glucose, which increased by 2.5-fold in 30 day-old control flies. The synbiotic formulation was the most effective at controlling age-related increases in glucose than any of the individual probiotics, or TFLA alone. “Notably, both the probiotic and synbiotic formulation completely rescued the elevation in total glucose by day 30,” the authors write. And while total triglyceride levels increased 1.7-fold in untreated controls by day 30, the probiotic and synbiotic formulations completely reduced the total triglyceride levels to the level of just-hatched flies.

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Further studies showed that insulin-like signaling in aging flies was positively affected by the probiotics and TFLA. While individual probiotic formulations and TFLA had positive effects on insulin-signaling pathways, the probiotic and synbiotic formulation demonstrated “combinatorial effects on rescuing the underlying insulin signalling dysregulation in aging Drosophila,” the team writes. Fatty acid metabolism was also improved by supplementation using the probiotic and synbiotic formulation in aging male flies, while both the probiotic and synbiotic formulations reduced age-related increases in inflammatory markers to a greater degree than did the individual probiotics or TFLA alone.

Levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) were significantly raised in the aged Drosophila flies, which exhibited an age-related increase in total oxidants and lipid peroxidation (LPO) levels, and significant decreases in superoxidase dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity. Probiotic or synbiotic dietary supplementation led to reduced levels of total oxidants at day 30. More specifically, the synbiotic and probiotic formulations reversed the otherwise 42% to 50% reductions in GPx and SOD activity measured in control flies as they aged. Synbiotic and probiotic formulations also reduced the age-related increases in LPO, by day 30. “Again, the synbiotic formulation had a significantly higher impact than the probiotic formulation and any of the individual therapies and was the only group which rescued the level of LPO compared to the day 0 controls.”

The researchers' studies demonstrated that mitochondrial function declined with aging in control flies, evidenced as reduced activity in each of the four mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) complexes. Encouragingly, adding probiotic or synbiotic formulations to the animals’ diets led to improvements in the activity of ETC complex activity, “which is very significant in demonstrating how a probiotic treatment can influence mitochondrial complex integrity and consequently the production of ROS particles,” the authors state.

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As bodies age they become less able to handle environmental stresses, and these stresses cause imbalances, including inflammation, oxidative stress and metabolic dysregulation, and mitochondrial damage, the authors state. There will likely never be a single therapeutic or dietary solution that can manage ever age-related chronic disorder. However, the authors suggest, maintaining a healthy gut microbiota through the use probiotic and prebiotic supplements might help to delay chronic disease onset and increase lifespan by simultaneously impacting on multiple triggers of aging. “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,” they write. “The concomitant action of the gut microbiota on each of the key risk factors of aging and makes it a powerful therapeutic tool against neurodegeneration, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and other age-related chronic diseases.”

The researchers further suggest that increasing our undertanding of how gut microbiota and probiotic treatments impact on aging metabolic pathways may help in the development of specific formulations that, if taken early in life, could prevent the development of chronic diseases.

“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 Dr. Prakash. “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”.

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Do probiotics increase lifespan? ›

A longevity-promoting gut bacteria improves bone and brain aging in mice and increases lifespan and healthspan in flies and worms. By Daniel R.

Can you take triphala and probiotics together? ›

But as the researchers commented: “Our results definitely suggest that a diet specifically incorporating Triphala along with these probiotics will promote a long and healthy life.”

Can probiotics restore microbiome? ›

Probiotics may restore the composition of the gut microbiome and introduce beneficial functions to gut microbial communities, resulting in amelioration or prevention of gut inflammation and other intestinal or systemic disease phenotypes.

Do probiotics permanently change gut microbiome? ›

If the question is whether the typical commercially available probiotics, often containing strains of Lactobacillus and/or Bifidobacterium will permanently establish and proliferate in the gut of healthy adults after consumption, the answer is that this is highly unlikely.

Can probiotics prevent aging? ›

A review of multiple studies found that probiotics can restore the pH of acidic skin, reduce the impact of oxidative stress, reduce the effects of photo-aging, boost skin barrier function, and improve the quality of your hair. After all, probiotics literally means “for life”!

Are probiotics anti aging? ›

Probiotics and skin aging

For instance, probiotic bacteria, particularly lactobacilli and bifidobacteria interact with dermal fibroblasts in a photoprotective manner, thereby exhibiting an anti-aging effect.

What not to combine with probiotics? ›

Some medications that may interact with certain probiotics include: antibiotics, antifungals (such as clotrimazole, ketoconazole, griseofulvin, nystatin).

Can you take ashwagandha and probiotics at the same time? ›

There have been no interactions with vitamins, minerals, probiotics, essential fatty acids, and most other supplements.

Who should not use triphala? ›

Triphala is not recommended for pregnant or lactating women, since no scientific studies have guaranteed their safety. Additionally, they can also lower the effectiveness of certain medications like blood thinners.

How long does it take to rebuild the microbiome? ›

For most people, the composition of the gut microbiome returns almost completely to baseline in one to two months.

How long does it take to fix your microbiome? ›

Building a healthy microbiome can take up to 6 months if the correct healthy habits are adopted (diet, exercise, sleep and stress management - and also supplements if needed) however it really is a lifelong journey because you need to continue these habits to maintain a healthy microbiome.

What naturally kills bad bacteria in the gut? ›

An anti-inflammatory diet, regular exercise, good quality sleep, and probiotics are all strategies to put in place before trying antimicrobials or antibiotics to get rid of bad bacteria.

Is it OK to take probiotics indefinitely? ›

Probiotics have been shown to be safe to use long-term. One study found that long-term use of probiotics led to beneficial changes in the gut microbiome. Like dosage, the duration for taking probiotics varies depending on the bacterial strains and specific product.

How long does it take for probiotics to repopulate your gut? ›

Depending on what you're taking probiotics for, you may see symptom improvements anywhere between a few days to a few months.

What is the fastest way to restore gut microbiome? ›

In this article, we list 10 scientifically supported ways to improve the gut microbiome and enhance overall health.
  1. Take probiotics and eat fermented foods. ...
  2. Eat prebiotic fiber. ...
  3. Eat less sugar and sweeteners. ...
  4. Reduce stress. ...
  5. Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily. ...
  6. Exercise regularly. ...
  7. Get enough sleep.
May 28, 2019

Should you take probiotics every day forever? ›

A common question about probiotics is whether it is ok to take probiotic supplements every day. Whilst there may be a few exceptions to this rule, the general answer is yes, it's safe, and usually recommended, to take them daily. It's important to understand that probiotics are a natural supplement and not a medicine.

What bacteria is used for anti aging? ›

Leprosy bacteria hold anti-ageing secrets and can regenerate organs, scientists say.

Is there a downside to probiotics? ›

Possible harmful effects of probiotics include infections, production of harmful substances by the probiotic microorganisms, and transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from probiotic microorganisms to other microorganisms in the digestive tract.

Do probiotics help build collagen? ›

Probiotics work on the surface to maintain moisture and fight the bad bacteria causing redness, sensitivity, spots and infections. The beneficial bugs also penetrate the deeper levels to repair skin DNA and build collagen.

Should people over 60 take probiotics? ›

Studies have shown that probiotics can be beneficial to seniors and aging adults for more than just the keeping the body regular. Probiotics can help older adults maintain a healthy gut and strong immune system while fighting off harmful bacteria such as Clostridia and Bacteroides which are more common with age.

Do probiotics boost collagen? ›

Absolutely. Since probiotics and collagen both support gut health and digestion, they naturally have a complementary relationship with one another. In fact, taking them together can improve their bioavailability or the ability of your body to assimilate the nutrients.

Can I take vitamin D and probiotics together? ›

In addition, probiotics might have synergistic effects with vitamin D, through improving the expression of vitamin D receptors [9]. Therefore, modulating the microbiota-gut-brain axis by probiotics plus improving vitamin D levels might provide a novel target to treat mental and metabolic disorders.

Why do doctors not recommend probiotics? ›

The supplements can be costly, and there isn't enough evidence to prove a benefit or confirm lack of harm.” Probiotics are microscopic organisms — including certain bacteria and yeast — that live in the digestive tract and are also found in a variety of foods and dietary supplements.

Does magnesium affect probiotics? ›

Magnesium is an essential mineral that is responsible for more than 300 reactions in the body. It helps maintain healthy bones, supports muscle function and recovery, and promotes sleep. It has also been shown to play an important role in the gut brain axis. It can be taken together with probiotics.

What Cannot mix with ashwagandha? ›

Ashwagandha, because it seems to make the immune system more active, could also interfere with drugs that suppress the immune system. Examples of these drugs include cyclosporine, mycophenolate, tacrolimus, prednisone, and corticosteroids.

What herbs not to mix with ashwagandha? ›

Ashwagandha might also interact with supplements that cause sleepiness, like St. John's wort, kava, valerian, and others.

Is Triphala anti cancerous? ›

Extensive studies on Triphala have shown that it has preventive and therapeutic efficacy against malignancies such as breast, colon, pancreas, prostate, ovarian, cervical, endometrial, and lymphatic cancers as well as melanoma [58,60,61,63,74].

What happens if I take Triphala everyday? ›

Is it good to take Triphala daily? Yes, daily supplementation of Triphala is considered to be good. This helps to manage blood glucose levels, intestinal infections and provides relief from constipation. Furthermore, Triphala has antibacterial, immunomodulator, antioxidant, blood purifying and wound healing properties.

Can I take Triphala indefinitely? ›

A major purpose of triphala is to teach your body to have a bowel movement in the morning, as that is the most ideal time to eliminate. That is why taking it at night before you go to bed is so important. We suggest never taking an herbal supplement for more than three months.

What should I eat to reset my microbiome? ›

These include yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso and many aged cheeses. Spending time outdoors in the natural world also exposes you to millions of microbes, many of which can benefit microbiome diversity. And research shows that exercise itself is important to maintaining gut health.

Does fasting heal microbiome? ›

Recent studies suggest that intermittent fasting can alter the composition of the human gut microbiome by increasing taxonomic diversity and promoting microbial remodeling. During fasting, a particular family of anaerobic bacteria called Lachnospiraceae flourished.

How do you know if your microbiome is off? ›

There are a number of common signs that may indicate an imbalance in your microbiome.
  1. Gas, Bloating and Other Stomach Issues. ...
  2. Unintentional Weight Fluctuations. ...
  3. Skin Issues. ...
  4. Moodiness, Irritability and Trouble With Concentration. ...
  5. Fatigue or Insomnia. ...
  6. Sugar Cravings.

Can fasting reset your gut? ›

Fasting during prolonged periods gives the gut the time it needs to restore its integrity. This is especially important for those with “leaky gut”, also called intestinal permeability, where the gut lining is weakened thereby allowing toxins, partially digested foods and pathogens to enter the bloodstream.

How do you fix a damaged microbiome? ›

Taking probiotics helps the gut microbiome return to a healthy state after it has been disturbed. Probiotics also have a positive influence on the immune system of the body. The timing of your probiotic intake is important - doctors advise that you take probiotics at least 2 hours before your antibiotic dose.

What is the strongest natural antibiotic? ›

Honey. Honey tops the list of antibiotics and is known for its extensive healing properties. The presence of hydrogen peroxide in honey exhibits strong antibacterial properties. In addition, the high sugar content thwarts the growth of bacteria.

How do I reset my microbiome? ›

Gut resets aim to restore the balance of the microbiome by:
  1. removing foods that feed harmful bacteria and cause inflammation.
  2. introducing plenty of prebiotic foods, which feed beneficial bacteria.
  3. encouraging healthful practices, such as getting enough sleep and exercise and staying hydrated.
Oct 27, 2020

Is apple cider vinegar good for gut health? ›

Raw apple cider vinegar also contains: Natural probiotics (friendly bacteria), which may help with your immune system and gut health. Antioxidants, substances that can prevent damage to your body's cells.

What are the long term effects of taking probiotics? ›

Some reports have linked probiotics to serious infections and other side effects. The people most likely to have trouble are those with immune system problems, people who've had surgery, and others who are critically ill. Don't take probiotics if you have any of those issues.

Is it safe to take probiotics daily long term? ›

A common question about probiotics is whether it is ok to take probiotic supplements every day. Whilst there may be a few exceptions to this rule, the general answer is yes, it's safe, and usually recommended, to take them daily. It's important to understand that probiotics are a natural supplement and not a medicine.

How long should you stay on probiotics? ›

For short-term symptom relief, such as reducing diarrhea, some probiotics may work in as little as a few days. For chronic conditions or general immune health, it may be most beneficial to take probiotics for weeks or months at a time.

What are long term benefits of probiotics? ›

Benefits of Probiotics for Gut Health
  • Optimize Gut Function by Balancing the Bacteria in Your Digestive System. ...
  • Reduce the Symptoms of Some Digestive Disorders. ...
  • Reduce the Frequency of Diarrhea. ...
  • Maintain and Improve Gut Integrity. ...
  • Reduce Gas and Bloating. ...
  • Improve Mood and Reduce Stress.

What is the downside of taking probiotics? ›

They may trigger allergic reactions, and may also cause mild stomach upset, diarrhea, or flatulence (passing gas) and bloating for the first few days after starting to take them. There are certain people who need to use caution when using probiotic supplements. There is a risk of infection in some people.

What happens when you start taking probiotics everyday? ›

Regularly taking probiotics has generally been shown to be safe, according to the NIH, especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. The most common side effect is gas. Some cases of infections have resulted in severe illness in immunocompromised or severely ill patients after taking probiotics.

What is the downside of probiotics? ›

Probiotics are safe for the majority of the population, but side effects can occur. The most common side effects are a temporary increase in gas, bloating, constipation and thirst. Some people can also react poorly to ingredients used in probiotic supplements or to naturally occurring amines in probiotic foods.

What medications should not be taken with probiotics? ›

Some medications that may interact with certain probiotics include: antibiotics, antifungals (such as clotrimazole, ketoconazole, griseofulvin, nystatin).

What food is highest in probiotics? ›

Here are seven foods high in probiotics:
  • Yogurt. Yogurt is made by culturing milk with bacteria that produce lactic acid, such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, although more strains can also be added. ...
  • Buttermilk. ...
  • Cottage Cheese. ...
  • Tempeh. ...
  • Sauerkraut. ...
  • Miso Soup.
Dec 9, 2022

What happens when you stop taking daily probiotics? ›

When probiotics administration is suspended, lactic acid bacteria are rapidly released, causing a host intestinal imbalance in the gut microbiota, gut metabolites, and intestinal physical structure.

How long does it take for probiotics to heal your gut? ›

If you are taking a high quality, multispecies and multistrain supplement, you can expect to notice initial improvements and health benefits of probiotics in your digestion as early as the first 1-2 weeks after starting your probiotic. Depending on how sensitive you are, many people feel a difference after a few days.

Can you overdo probiotics? ›

Taking too many can cause side effects like bloating and gas. It is possible to take too many probiotics , though a harmful overdose isn't likely. Common side effects of taking too many probiotics can include bloating, gas, and nausea. Those with a weakened immune system should consult a doctor before taking probiotics ...

How can I tell if probiotics are working? ›

But there are some common indicators that they may be working for you.
  • Less stomach pain. For some people, certain probiotics can help with stomach pain and cramps. ...
  • More frequent poops. ...
  • Less bloating. ...
  • Improved sleep. ...
  • Better mood, memory, and mental clarity. ...
  • Fewer vaginal infections.
Feb 13, 2023

What is the best time to take probiotics? ›

“Research has found probiotic supplements to be most effective when taken 20 to 30 minutes before a meal,” says Nelson. “Taking them before breakfast may be the preferred option, because your digestive system has been at rest for an extended period of time and the probiotic has less resistance reaching the intestines.”


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