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How the world got lost on
the road to an anti-aging pill
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April 7, 2017: by Bill Sardi
The race to prove the first anti-aging pill just got a bit more interesting if not closer to reality. The latest anti-aging pill is POOP. Yep, you heard it right. Excrement.
The bacteria from the feces of young killfish was transferred to older killfish with a startling prolongation of life — +41% longer, enough to nearly equal the long heralded doubling of the healthspan and lifespan of rodents achieved by a calorie restricted diet in the animal lab.
The bacterial transfer was accomplished by placing older fish in an aquarium where they were exposed to bacteria from younger fish. The killfish didn’t eat excrement but nosed up to feces derived bacteria in their search for food and the bacteria were transferred.
The diversity of bacteria in the gut of the older fish was similar to younger fish and this coincided with more youthful activity levels. A 41% increase in lifespan was unexpected for a vertebrate species.
Normally killfish live 3-9 months. The gut bacteria of long-living older fish was dominated by the Bacteroidetes family of bacteria over the Firmicutes family. [BioRxiv.org] Bacteroidetes are the same family of bacteria demonstrated to confer health benefits in humans. The more diverse the gut bacteria, the longer killfish lived.
Is your utopian mind racing ahead like mine to imagine the entire human population on earth having beneficial bacteria instilled into drinking water or common foodstuffs to universally produce a long-lived species, no anti-aging pill needed.
Don’t hold your breath over this idea as it would certainly deplete retirement funds and overwhelm healthcare budgets, not to mention disrupting the ongoing hundreds of billions of dollars of profits by the pharmaceutical industry.
Of course, the difference between these aquarium-kept killfish and humans is that humanity has access to midnight refrigerator raids and binge-eating episodes or over-indulges with alcohol. But recall that the red wine-drinking French overcome their high fat diet with a glass or two of wine with meals. The secret of wine may have always been its ability to alter the composition of gut bacteria.
Humanity is on the cusp of something big. Only early adaptors are likely to benefit, those health and longevity seekers who read reports like this one.
This idea is within reach. In October of 2013 researchers reported they transferred “poop” (actually just the bacteria from poop) from healthy people into the intestines of people with infections. [Daily Mail Oct 13, 2013] A stool bank was announced in 2015 to start production of “poop pills.” [WBUR Oct 28, 2015] So “poop” transfer is not new, can be regularly practiced, and its life extending properties are obviously just now being tested in short-lived species. Of course, it might take a few decades to prove “poop” from the young prolongs the life of older humans.
Not only do “poop” pills hold promise for prolonging human life but also for engineering a lean population. [Washington Post Jan 14, 2016]
The bacterial composition in the human gut has already been shown to correlate with health in the elderly. [Nature Aug 2012] So much scientific ground has been covered already.
The killfish investigators say: “Our approach could provide a key to slowing aging and retarding the onset of age-associated diseases by specifically targeting the gut microbiota.” [BioRxiv.org]
The biggest part of the discovery may not have been the dramatic prolongation of life in killfish. Equally ground-breaking is that researchers chose to universally transfer beneficial bacterial to all of the killfish in the aquarium at one time. No “poop” pills needed. Now we await the day when beneficial bacteria is instilled into the human ecology to produce universal human superlongevity. This begs a question: just what was the bacterial composition in the gut of the long-living Biblical Patriarchs who consumed unfiltered wine that provided 30 times more polyphenols than commercial wines today?
Longevity seekers who already take resveratrol may wonder just what that red wine molecule does in regard to gut bacteria.
Resveratrol exhibits profound ability to favorably alter gut bacteria, making it a master prebiotic. [Nutrition Feb 2016]
As background information, probiotics like Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus are two non-pathogenic bacteria commonly consumed as dietary supplements to restore or maintain healthy gut bacteria usually provided in billions of bacteria. But there are hundreds of varieties of bacteria in the human gut totaling trillions by count (~4 lbs. by weight).
Prebiotics like resveratrol and quercetin influence most of the bacterial species in the human gut (intestines). [Food & Function Aug 2015; Journal Nutritional Biochemistry June 2015] There is a movement towards use of prebiotics over probiotics.
In a mouse study resveratrol was recently shown to improve blood sugar control and calm intestinal inflammation and favorably alter gut bacteria of high-fat fed mice. However, the amount of resveratrol employed was equivalent to 14,000 milligrams in a 160-lb. human, with only scientific not practical relevance. [Scientific Reports July 29, 2016]
A dose of resveratrol equivalent to 35 mg in humans has been shown to favorably alter gut bacteria as evidenced in stool cultures. [American Journal Clinical Nutrition Feb 2013] So mega-dose resveratrol is not required to produce a favorable change in gut bacteria.
In a more striking animal study, resveratrol was shown to abolish atherosclerotic arterial deposits induced by administration of high-dose choline, a nutrient found abundantly in eggs. The indirect control of atherosclerosis via alteration of gut bacteria is a landmark development. [mBio March-April 2016]
One British researcher says: “Attempts to use so called ‘probiotics’, normally applied to the gut are rarely successful, and sometimes fail, as they are usually applied… in parallel with heavy pharmaceutical treatment, not rarely consisting of antibiotics and chemotherapy (which sterilizes the gut). It is increasingly observed that the majority of pharmaceutical drugs, even those believed to have minimal adverse effects…. in fact adversely affect immune development and functions and are most likely also deleterious to microbiota (gut bacteria).” This is an admission that most pharmaceuticals are inherently unhealthy.
He goes on to say: “Pharmaceutical treatment has, thus far, failed to inhibit the tsunami of endemic diseases spreading around the world, and no new tools are in sight. It appears that probiotic treatment is not compatible with pharmacological treatments either. Eco-biological treatments with plant-derived substances, or phytochemicals, such as resveratrol as a pre-biotic offers similar effects as use of biologicals (drugs), although milder but also free from adverse effects.” [Pharmacology Research March 2013]
But don’t bet on modern medicine backing away from its allopathic paradigm any time soon. Most maladies of aging are treated as if they are drug deficiencies. In this context, modest consumption of polyphenol-rich red wine to favorably alter gut bacteria may lend credence to the claim that a glass of wine still bests the most advanced pharmaceutical drug though resveratrol as a dietary supplement obviously averts the deleterious effects of alcohol upon the body and mind. [Pharmacological Research Nov 2012] — © 2017 Bill Sardi, ResveratrolNews.com