In a really interesting study, researchers took a bunch of young mice and a corresponding bunch of old mice and gave them all enough antibiotics to destroy most of the bacteria living in their guts, what is called the “gut microbiome”.
And I know it’s not a pleasant idea to be reminded that your gut is home to billions of bacteria, but you have to get over it cuz it happens to be true.
Anyway, what the researchers found is that while the antibiotic intervention had no observable effect on the young mice (think Justin Bieber-ish mice), it had a major beneficial effect on the old mice (the Clint Eastwoods).
In the words of the researchers, the “vascular health (of the old mice) was restored to that of young mice “, or to keep with the analogy, the arteries and inflammatory measures of the Eastwood mice was now as healthy as those of the Bieber mice.
In other words, it may be that something about our gut bacteria as we age is disruptive to the health of our blood vessels (and probably other tissues, too).
So should every Eastwood immediately start taking antibiotics to change the bacteria in their gut?
First, antibiotics have too many significant potential downsides, and even more important, mice are not humans so we really have no idea from a study like this what would happen if we did the same thing to humans.
But there is a seemingly innocuous way to make some alteration to your gut microbiome and that is to eat more fermented products such as kefir and yogurt.
It really can’t hurt, and who know, if it really works, maybe all us oldies will end up looking like Justin Bieber.
Actually, maybe you want to limit your fermented product intake to a more reasonable amount.