Does the gut-brain axis hold the secret to longevity? New study sheds more light

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

The Ayurvedic blend Triphala, used in this study as a prebiotic, contains amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki fruits. Getty Images / bdspn
The Ayurvedic blend Triphala, used in this study as a prebiotic, contains amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki fruits. Getty Images / bdspn
Fruit flies consuming a combination of a probiotic and Ayurvedic herbal ingredient lived 26 days longer than those that didn’t, researchers from McGill University reported.

The results, published yesterday​ in the journal Scientific Reports ​were, of course, in fruit flies—but study co-author Dr. Satya Prakash said that the fruit fly is remarkably similar to mammals, with about 70 % similarity in terms of their biochemical pathways, making it a good indicator of what would happen in humans.

"The effects in humans would likely not be as dramatic, but our results definitely suggest that a diet specifically incorporating ​[the Ayurvedic herbal] Triphala along with these probiotics will promote a long and healthy life​," he said.

They reached this conclusion based on the various physiological metabolic markers linked to aging, such as mounting insulin resistance, inflammation, and oxidative stress, which they found to be less in the fruit flies fed with the probiotic and herbal combo.

Dr. Prakash is a professor of biomedical engineering in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. Together with lead author Dr. Susan Westerfall, the two are co-founders of Proviva Pharma​, which specializes in research, development, and marketing in probiotic medicines.

Some of the data published in this present study were filed in a US provisional patent for the company. Funding for the study, however, came from the Natural Science and Engineering Science Council and Canadian Institute of Health Research, not the company.

Probiotics and Ayurvedic herbal prebiotic

Researchers used three probiotic strains: Lactobacillus plantarum​ NCIMB 8826 (Lp8826), Lactobacillus fermentum​ NCIMB 5221 (Lf5221) and Bifidobacteria longum​ spp. infantis​ NCIMB 702255 (Bi702255), all obtained from the National Collection of Industrial Food and Marine Bacteria in Scotland.

The Ayurvedic herbal blend Triphala was used as a ‘prebiotic’ (fodder for the probiotics) because of its rich polyphenol content. The blend came from the Ayurvedic Pharmacy at Banaras Hindu University in Varanasi, India.

Dr. Westfall said that the idea of combining Triphala and probiotics came from her interest in studying natural products derived from traditional indian medicine and their impact on neurodegenerative disease.

"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,"​ Westfall said.

Harnessing the gut brain-axis

According to the researchers, the results shed more light on mechanisms of the gut brain-axis communication with implications in chronic disease management.

"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," ​said 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."

Source:Scientific Reports
Published online, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-25382-z
Longevity extension in Drosophila through gut-brain communication
Authors: Susan Westfall, Nikita Lomis, Satya Prakash

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