Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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Researchers continue to deepen our understanding of how the body interacts with its environment. This interplay between what happens internally and externally is key to prolonging one’s lifespan. It underlines the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle, for example. New research builds on this understanding by demonstrating the longevity benefits associated with improving the health of your gut microbiota.
The gut microbiota is increasingly recognised as an important regulator of host immunity and brain health.
The gut microbiota resides in the intestine and is home to the human body’s largest population of microorganisms.
A study published in the journal Nature Ageing suggests altering the gut microbiota can have brain-boosting effects.
Elderly mice (19-20 months old) received a fecal microbiota transplantation from either young mice (three to four months) or same-age elderly mice.
“What is remarkable about the findings is that the elderly mice that received a fecal microbiota transplantation from young mice showed a reversal of ageing-associated brain changes,” explained Doctor Vincent Pedre, Medical Director of Pedre Integrative Health and author of the bestselling book, “HAPPY GUT®—The Cleansing Program To Help You Lose Weight, Gain Energy and Eliminate Pain.”?
He continued: “They found improvements in brain immunity as well as the production of messenger molecules from the brain’s control centre, known as the hippocampus.
“This translated into improvements in cognitive behaviour in the elderly mice.”
The benefits of improving gut health extend to humans.
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A recently published study in Nature showed that centenarians have a unique gut microbiome capable of producing novel secondary bile acids (metabolites from our own bile) that prevent the growth of inflammatory intestinal pathogens, reported Doctor Pedre.
“Not all of these centenarians were living in multi-generational households, but the new research findings suggest that elderly living in multigenerational households can get exposed to the younger microbiome of their grandchildren, keeping their microbiome more fit.”
How to improve gut health
“We know several ways to promote a healthy gut microbiome and keep inflammatory markers (which lead to aging) at bay,” noted Doctor Pedre.
- Eat fermented foods on a regular basis
- Incorporate plenty of fibre in the diet (at least 25 – 35 grams daily)
- Include polyphenol-rich foods (like pomegranate) in the diet
- Get out in nature / work on a garden / get your hands dirty
- Own a pet.
General tips to stay healthy
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health, and can help you feel your best.
“This means eating a wide variety of foods in the right proportions, and consuming the right amount of food and drink to achieve and maintain a healthy body weight,” explains the NHS.
The Eatwell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to:
- Eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
- Base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
- Have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
- Eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
- Choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
- Drink plenty of fluids (at least six to eight glasses a day).
According to the NHS, starchy foods should make up just over a third of everything you eat. This means your meals should be based on these foods.
“Choose wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of starchy foods, such as brown rice, wholewheat pasta, and brown, wholemeal or higher fibre white bread.”
As the health body notes, they contain more fibre, and usually more vitamins and minerals, than white varieties.
“Potatoes with the skins on are a great source of fibre and vitamins. For example, when having boiled potatoes or a jacket potato, eat the skin too.”
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