microbiome and ageing

Your microbiome and ageing

Discover the crucial role of digestion in healthy aging. Learn proactive steps to optimize gut health for vitality and longevity.

Digestion, like breathing, is a process we take for granted. We eat, mostly for pleasure, unfortunately often unhealthy foods that are rich in fat and sugar, an insidiously corrosive habit that is exploited rapaciously by the barons of the food industry. Sadly, this unconscious pattern is what sets us up for the diseases of ageing. But it could all evolve so differently.

The foods you place in your mouth, your capacity to break these down optimally and extract the vital nutrients your body needs to look after your heart, brain and the rest of your essential organs and the balance of germs in your gut are fundamental to how well you age and the diseases you manifest as you negotiate the tribulations of getting older.

Four pillars of health

In the books I have written about optimally managing the trajectory of ageing, especially You Have the Power, I repeatedly return to the “four pillars of health”, the platform you need to maximise if you are going to navigate this challenge with aplomb. The first, foundation pillar is digestion.\ The second pillar is diet, ensuring you are eating the foods that are right for you, and this needs to be unique and individualised. The third pillar is nutrient optimisation, obtaining the essential minerals, vitamins, protein and fatty acids you need for your cells to operate at their maximal capacity, providing you with exuberant energy and amplifying your brain power. The fourth pillar focuses on your hormones, the conductors of your cellular symphony, orchestrating the daily activities of all your cells that are then able to combine in a singularly effective and synchronous fashion.

Unquestionably, the gut is fundamental to the functionality of all the pillars. If it fails, then all the other pillars implode as a consequence. Once it ceases to serve you, then your body and your brain will no longer be able to execute their daily activities and the infirmities and diseases of ageing will start to take hold. This is often when we seek medical care, which, for the most part, will simply provide a pharmaceutical Band-Aid for disorders that could have been prevented had you paid attention to taking charge of the four pillars of health.

Ther are many changes that take place in your gut as you age. Aside from a diminishing sense of taste and smell, and possibly having difficulty swallowing, although this is uncommon, most of these events take place without your awareness. What you can do is manage these proactively to halt and even reverse their progression.

Proactive steps

Starting at the top, declining smell and taste can be ameliorated by improving zinc status. Foods high in zinc include oysters, nuts, seeds and red meat, although often supplementation is necessary. Maintaining good dental hygiene using dental brushes coated with a natural paste I have formulated to curb plaque and prevent dental caries can help to boost healthy dentition. A lack of stomach acid and digestive enzymes, essential for breaking down foods into easily digestible components providing you with the vital nutrients you need to function optimally, can be addressed by taking supplements of these and by drinking herbal teas such as chamomile or peppermint tea with your meals.

Waning gut immunity can be bolstered by eating more immune-boosting vegetables and fruits, including garlic, spinach, kale, broccoli, citrus fruits, asparagus and capsicum. Diminishing gut motility or the movement of food through your gut can be augmented with high-fibre foods such as avocado, berries, dried fruit and apples, being well hydrated and enjoying regular exercise.

Having more contact with other humans and pets can enrich your gut flora, contributing to a more diverse and healthier gut microbiome, which refers to all the resident microbes in our gastrointestinal system. As the diagram illustrates, it is the changes in your microflora that have the most critical impact on your propensity to age healthily or develop a host of age-related diseases that the medical fraternity fail to associate with a ravaged microbiome.

Article Featured in WellBeing 209

Dr Michael Elstein

Dr Michael Elstein

Dr Michael Elstein is a Sydney-based anti-ageing physician and writer. He is the author of three books including his latest, The Wellness Guide to Preventing the Diseases of Ageing. He has also designed the app The Diet Guide to Ageing Prevention.

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