You’ve got to love the folks who reach 100. They’re a fun bunch.
Honestly, I can’t get enough of those interviews. You know the ones I mean. The birthday ambushes.
A local reporter knocks on the door of the town’s latest centenarian on his 100th birthday and asks her the secret to such a long life. And without missing a beat and with a twinkle in her eye, the “super-ager” will say something totally ridiculous.
“I eat a pound of bacon every day!”
Now, I know they’re joking. And you know they’re joking. But that local reporter? Well, let’s just say the super-agers have been pranking the media for years now – and getting away with it, too.
The irony, of course, is that most people have no idea why they reach or pass 100. Genetics is likely a factor. And in some cases, I’m sure luck plays a big role.
But new research shows you don’t have to be lucky to hit three digits. There’s ANOTHER factor that you can control. And that’s bile acids.
How bile acids could extend your life
Now just a small word of warning before I jump in. I’m going to be talking about gut stuff for a moment. So things are going to get a bit gross.
But I’ll be quick about it. And it’s worth it. I promise.
If you’re lucky, you’ve never had an up-close and personal encounter with your own bile. But if you’ve ever battled a severe case of the stomach flu or had food poisoning before, you might have regrettably come face to face with the stuff.
When you vomit and your stomach is empty, you sometimes throw up a greenish-yellow liquid called bile. Otherwise, you might not even know the stuff exists. But it’s a good thing it does. Because the acids in your bile are a critical line of defense against toxins and pathogens.
Throughout your lifetime, bile acids help protect you from all kinds of things that can harm you and make you sick. But they’re especially important as you get older.
Because with each passing year, a “run of the mill” infection or illness you might have blown off when you were younger could suddenly turn into a life-or-death battle.
And in the new study, researchers found that the bile acids of folks who pass the age of 100 are often very different than the rest of us. It’s as if they’re supercharged.
These amped-up acids offer extra protection. That means they can help prevent those potentially deadly illnesses that threaten to take us out as we age.
The feed your gut method to mastering aging
The study, published in the journal Nature, made it perfectly clear just how critical these bile acids actually are. The researchers even nicknamed them the “elixir of youth.”
And they believe altering the acids could hold the key to becoming one of those lucky people, standing on your porch, fibbing to a local reporter about how you reached 100.
Hint: It’s NOT by eating a pound of bacon a day (but feel free to tell them that).
But it is something else you swallow, and that’s probiotics. Those, of course, are the good bacteria that hang out in your digestive tract helping with digestion, immune function, inflammation, and more.
Take the bacteria Odoribacteraceae, for example. It was found in the gut contents of centenarians. And this good bug produces bile acids that target specific harmful bacteria such as Clostridioides difficile and Enterococcus faecium.
But really, it’s not about a specific strain. Instead, you want to focus on gut bug diversity. Because when you have a wide range of healthy bacteria in your gut, it can help ensure you have the right balance of life-extending bile acids.
And there are two ways to do that.
First, eat more foods rich in probiotic bacteria, especially fermented foods. Some good choices include…
- plain Greek yogurt
- tempeh (fermented soybean you can get at the regular grocery store)
- kombucha (a fermented fizzy tea you can get at many grocery stores)
- unpasteurized sauerkraut
And second, take a high-quality full-spectrum probiotic supplement from a maker you trust.
Plus, check out this list of more ways to encourage your body to bump up the production of bile acids.