Live longer thanks to Swiss cheese bacteria
If you've eaten Emmentaler or any other holey cheese, then you'll also have consumed Propionibacterium freudenreichii. This bacteria is responsible for the slightly fizzy taste of the cheese, and produces the gasses that cause the formation of the holes in these types of cheese. This same bacteria may also lengthen life expectancy, South Korean researchers discovered.
The researchers, who work at the University of Korea, wrote in Scientific Reports about their experiments with the tiny worm (nematode) Caenorhabditis elegans, a favourite lab animal for anti-aging researchers. Normally speaking researchers feed the worms with the Escherichia coli OP50-bacteria, but these researchers wanted to know what would happen if they used the probiotic Propionibacterium freudenreichii instead.
The results are shown below. The little worms lived longer when they were given Propionibacterium freudenreichii. And not only did their life span increase; their health span did so too.
As Caenorhabditis elegans age, the concentration of lipofuscin in their body increases. [Read more about lipofuscin here.] In 14-day-old prematurely aged worms the researchers found less lipofuscin in the animals that had been fed with Propionibacterium freudenreichii than in those that had been fed with Escherichia coli OP50.
The worms in the photos below had been given a substance that turns blue when it comes into contact with lipofuscin.
The Koreans discovered that the Swiss cheese bacteria activated the immune system and made the worms able to fight off pathogenic organisms faster. At the same time, Propionibacterium freudenreichii also reduced inflammatory reactions.
Of course, worms aren't humans. But the mechanisms that the Swiss cheese bacteria interact with are not substantively different in humans or in Caenorhabditis elegans. "Therefore, it is possible that the mechanisms identified in this study may apply to other species including humans," the Koreans concluded.
Sci Rep. 2016 Aug 17;6:31713.
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