At Vivante, we’re the digestive health experts. We live for this stuff. Here’s a short summary of another academic article our gut health nerds found interesting…
Trillions of microscopic bacteria, fungi, and viruses make the human gut their home. They’re collectively known as the gut microbiome. Although the microbiome is mysterious and there’s a lot we don’t yet understand, we do know it helps keep us healthy, aids digestion, and helps fight infection.
A few weeks ago, researchers in a Rockville, Maryland lab helped to shed some more light on just how important gut microbes are. By using machine learning, artificial intelligence and samples of human microbiome, they discovered that gut bacteria might be able to predict someone’s true age.
The researchers looked at the microbes of 3,600 people around the globe, including 1,165 healthy people. They used artificial intelligence to study their gut flora. Then, they pulled out the big guns—a deep learning algorithm that’s loosely modeled on how neurons work in the brain. Researchers used this to try and predict the ages of the people who provided samples.
The program was able to accurately predict someone’s age to within 4 years. Pretty cool.
Why does it matter?
Well, one practical application is that this info can be used to establish a baseline. This baseline could then be used to test how quickly or slowly someone’s gut is aging. In the near future, we may be able to quantify the effects of things like alcohol, antibiotics, probiotics, and diet on longevity. Basically, we’ll be able to see how specific bacterial groups in the gut affect age, for better or worse.
Other interesting tidbits researchers found:
- Some bacterial species are more common in elderly people. (This could impact care standards for the elderly when it comes to dietary recommendations and even medications.)
- Some species appear to be linked to specific conditions, like ulcerative colitis. (For people with IBD this could be huge!)
Just the beginning
As scientists learn more about how the gut microbiome is linked to other health aspects, we can expect even more fascinating discoveries to come. Our prediction: we’ll soon find out the tiny critters inhabiting our guts play a profound role in shaping us as human beings.