Study shows adding probiotics and herbal supplement Triphala to diet could be secret to adding years to our lives.

MONTREAL — The world of life deep within our bellies may hold the key to many happy, healthy years ahead. Experiments on fruit flies showed increased lifespan after the addition of probiotics and an herbal supplement, suggesting that our own lifespans might be affected by our microbiome — the ecosystem of bacteria and other microorganisms living in each of our digestive tracts.

In case you’re wondering how humans can even be compared to the tiny insect, scientists say the biochemical pathways of fruit flies are likened to those of mammals, with about a 70 percent similarity. Every human has a unique microbiome, which helps break down food and ward off sicknesses. Researchers believe the dietary additions protected the flies from chronic diseases that otherwise would have run rampant among them as they aged.

Scientists at McGill University in Canada fed fruit flies probiotics and an herbal supplement called Triphala. The flies that were given this combination of supplements lived 60 percent longer — an average of 66 days, which was about 26 more days than those that weren’t fed them.

“Probiotics dramatically change the architecture of the gut microbiota, not only in its composition but also in respect to how the foods that we eat are metabolized,” says senior author Satya Prakash, professor of biomedical engineering in McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, in a university release. “This allows a single probiotic formulation to simultaneously act on several biochemical signaling pathways to elicit broad beneficial physiological effects, and explains why the single formulation we present in this paper has such a dramatic effect on so many different markers.”

The authors warn that humans shouldn’t expect to see a 60 percent longer lifespan with similar dietary changes, but there still could be some significant benefit. “The effects in humans would likely not be as dramatic, but our results definitely suggest that a diet specifically incorporating Triphala along with these probiotics will promote a long and healthy life,” says Prakash.

Triphala, is derived from three fruits used in a form of traditional Indian medicine. Many people tout its ability to help reduce pain, inflammation, and prevent various diseases.

“At the onset of this study, we were hopeful that combining Triphala with probiotics would be at least a little better than their individual components in terms of physiological benefit, but we did not imagine how successful this formulation would be,” says Susan Westfall, the study’s lead author.

The study was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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