The Bacteria in Your Gut Can Predict Your Age, Suggests a Study

The study says that gut bacteria, containing nearly two million genes, can serve as a biological clock.

Published14 Jan 2019, 11:53 AM IST
Health News
2 min read

New research has found that all it needs to figure out a person’s age is a bunch of their gut bacteria. An artificial intelligence startup has built an algorithm that predicts age through this method.

The study says that gut microbiome in the human gut, with its billions of bacteria, containing nearly two million genes, can serve as a biological clock. This adds to a growing body of research that suggests the same.

The authors of the study write:

To our best knowledge, we present the first method to predict human chronological age using gut microbiota abundance profiles.

It’s known that newborns’ guts adapt and change in a series of stages. But the average adult’s gut microbiome had remained a mystery. Researchers don’t know whether it progresses at all, or it stays the same throughout someone’s mature life. Therefore, any age predictions based on this have been inaccurate.

The new predictions are reportedly much more accurate, although they are yet to be peer-reviewed.

This study examined 3,663 samples of gut bacteria from 1,165 healthy individuals. The samples, collected from publicly available data sets, came from people between the ages of 20 and 90.

The number of harmful or beneficial bacteria present in the gut was not linked to the years a person has lived, they found. But the study wasn't really about pinpointing which bacteria promote longevity or lead to more “youthful” gut microbes.

Instead, it highlighted 39 species of gut bacteria that were the most important in predicting someone's age. The authors hope that if their method is verified, it can help create a much more accurate picture of a person's true biological age while they are still alive, possibly leading to advances in personalised medicine.

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