Could poop be the key to slowing the aging process?
"Poop may be the answer!" laughed Lila Hughes of Burlington.
A string of headlines pointed in that direction after a small study in Germany found that replacing the gut bacteria in middle-aged killifish with gut bacteria from younger killifish helped the older fish live longer and avoid some of the problems that come with old age.
"I hope it works," said Seth King of Burlington. "It would be great."
"Well, it sounds interesting," said Ben Mule of Elizabethtown, New York. "I don't know how long we want to go on anyway?"
"Those implications could be wondrous for me," laughed Cheryl Titus of Grand Isle.
Reporter Kristin Kelly: How real is that? Can I get excited that I can stop the aging process because of a fish study?
Dr. Peter Moses/UVM Medical Center: Well, you know, I think most science involves an animal model, and fish are an unusual model but I think it's very suggestive.
Moses knows about gut bacteria. He's a gastroenterologist at the UVM Medical Center and an expert on fecal transplants. Back in 2014, WCAX News profiled his work transplanting carefully selected and processed feces from healthy donors into patients struggling to recover from Clostridium difficile, a nasty gut infection. The fecal transplants are now standard treatment for C-diff. And Moses and his colleagues are now studying whether transplants can essentially cure another nasty condition-- ulcerative colitis.
Kristin Kelly: So what is it about gut bacteria that makes it hold so much promise for all these different things?
Dr. Peter Moses: Well, we interact with our gut microbes in a number of ways. It certainly helps control immune function.
And he says studies keep piling up showing the so-called microbiome-- all the bacteria and viruses living in and on us-- plays a role in all sorts of other health issues from weight control and depression to asthma and multiple sclerosis. The microbiome's potential is feeding a flurry of Ted talks, books and diets, all pushing that a healthy gut and cleaner eating can solve all sorts of health problems.
Kristin Kelly: Is some of it hype? Is some of it real? Are we sorting it out?
Dr. Peter Moses: Well, I don't think a lot of it is hype... I think there's a lot of science that needs to be done but I doubt it's all hype.
More research will obviously take time but Moses says there's something you can do now to improve your microbiome. He says to make sure your diet is full of fiber-rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. That helps the good bacteria thrive.
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