What I think is an amazingly cool paper was just published in Scientific Reports by researchers from McGill University, in Canada.[i] You all know how much I like writing about things you can do now. So – knowing how dramatically our microbiomes affect our health, these researchers (using fruit flies) are looking for ways to improve the gut biome to optimize health.
Fruit flies are apparently a great organism to use in longevity experiments because their biochemical pathways are about 70% the same as humans – but they only live a short time (normally about 40 days) so scientists can rapidly see results.
Feeding the fruit flies a mixture of a 3 probiotic bacterial species (Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus fermentum and Bifidobacteria longum) and a prebiotic herbal formula called Triphala , they were able to extend the fruit flies’ lives by 60%, which is absolutely remarkable. That is, instead of living about 40 days, the flies lived an average of 66. More than that, they found that the flies had better markers for both physiological and oxidative stress, and inflammation.
Triphala is an Ayurvedic formula that has been used for centuries in traditional Indian medicine. It’s made of dried components from thee different kinds of fruit and several clinical studies have substantiated that it helps boost levels of beneficial bacteria while lowering levels of pathogenic species. I did some searching and found a review study of it from last year which states, “In addition to laxative action, Triphala research has found the formula to be potentially effective for several clinical uses such as appetite stimulation, reduction of hyperacidity, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, immunomodulating, antibacterial, antimutagenic, adaptogenic, hypoglycemic, antineoplastic, chemoprotective, and radioprotective effects, and prevention of dental caries. Polyphenols in Triphala modulate the human gut microbiome and thereby promote the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus while inhibiting the growth of undesirable gut microbes.”[ii]
By the way, this same group of researchers had previously tested these two components separately but found they did not have the same effect as when administered together.
Obviously, they do not expect this combination to prolong human life by 60%, but as the senior author of the paper says, “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…”[iii]
Call me crazy but…come on! It’s a no-brainer. So along with my daily probiotic, I have started Triphala
[i] Susan Westfall et al. Longevity extension in Drosophila through gut-brain communication, Scientific Reports (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-25382-z
[ii] Peterson, CT, Denniston, K, Chopra, D. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2017. 23(9):607-614.
in your opinion is there any down side to daily use of a probiotic? also, should probiotic strains be varied over time? thanks for sharing your wisdom and discoveries!
i meant to type “daily use of a probiotic”.
Hi Sharyn. This is a great question and completely coincidentally, a friend of mine wrote to me this week talking about this very topic. The answer is complicated sort of. So I will devote my next blog post to it! Stay tuned.
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