Today in the United States, people who are living to 100 represent the second fastest growing age group in the country, according the US Census Bureau Projections. Here we are, 60-plus and writing articles on how to age healthy, how to make our money last, how to stay engaged, be employed, do what turns us on. Living to 100: How Are You Staying Healthy? Movement Exercise, strength training, health care and diet are the factors you have control over when you are 60-plus. It is an important part of maintaining your health. Staying healthy takes time. How Are You Maintaining or Growing Your Wealth? The building blocks for aging are mostly in place by age 60, and wealth is not one of them. If you live, or must live, off the assets you’ve acquired during the first 60 years of your life, you can still grow these assets or turn them into life-time producing income. Regular exercise, positive health checks, a modest but reliable income, all work toward improving your attitude about living and aging.
Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve heard about the many benefits of probiotics. They are good for just about everything – from your sinusitis to irritable bowel. But, did you know they could be beneficial for your memory?
How, you ask? Reasonable question. Probiotics live on our mucous membranes, mostly in the gut. It’s quite a ways from there to our brains.
What is “Brain-gut Axis”?
It turns out that there might be a connection between the bowel and the brain in the form of the “brain-gut axis.” What is this?
It is analogous to other teams of organs cooperating together, like the pituitary-adrenal axis, responsible for our stress response.
But, unlike its older equivalents, the brain-gut axis is a hot new term. There are almost 500 research articles related to it, all of them published just in the last 5 years.
The idea that there is a two-way communication between the gut and brain is not a new one. Even in our vernacular, we sometimes talk about “thinking with the gut,” “gut feelings,” etc.
However, we had no good explanation as to how these two rather distant organs talk to one another. Enter “good bacteria.” Well, now we may be getting somewhere.
You Contain a Vast Community of Little Helpers
It is a sobering and humbling thought that you have 10 times more bacterial cells in your body, than you have your own cells. Admittedly, they are much smaller – adding up to about 3% of your body weight – and scientists now consider them another body organ, called “macrobiota.”
Macrobiota includes beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium as well as pathogenic ones like Escherichia coli or Clostridium difficile (which you may know by their shorter nicknames: E. coli and C. diff).
The composition of the bacterial “community” differs widely from person to person and depends on many factors such as (obviously) diet, but also others, for instance whether or not you were born naturally or via C-section, breast-fed or on baby formula and were you exposed to antibiotics in your life (it is precious few of us who weren’t).
Antibiotics were a wonderful victory of modern medicine, but as it often happens, there was a hidden downside. Disruption in our gut bacteria is the price we paid. At this point, we still don’t fully comprehend the extent of the damage.
Dysbiosis (another term for gut bacteria imbalance) is likely responsible for a surge in irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease and the now wide-spread food intolerances.
There is a possible link to the increase in diabetes and obesity. But there are more and more voices connecting dysbiosis to depression, anxiety and memory loss.
How Do Bacteria Help Our Brains?
Gut macrobiota is responsible for helping with food digestion and production of…