The idea of a fecal transplant might sound off-putting, but there are times when it’s necessary. For instance, fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is recommended if people suffer from certain reoccurring infections after antibiotics. By receiving the healthy bacteria from someone else’s microbiome, you can kickstart your own. It’s a bit like getting starter yeast for bread.
It’s a medical process where stool from a healthy person is processed either into a pill or liquid. It is then administered either via a coloscopy or through the nose or mouth. This can boost gut health and improve your microbiome, allowing your body to heal itself. The question for many is, what sort of an ailment would you need to feel comfortable receiving FMT?
New animal research has found that using FMT can reverse brain aging in mice. Using transplanted stool from mice that were the equivalent of young adults, they treated very old mice for eight weeks. They also had control groups where old mice got transplants from other old mice, and young ones got transplants from their peers.
The microbiomes of the old mice changed to resemble their doners’. They grew an abundance of healthy bacteria. And the area of the brain related to learning and memory became physically and chemically like the younger mice’s. They learned mazes faster and remembered them better. However, it didn’t change their social behavior. Younger mice are much more social than older mice. The old mice didn’t become friendlier with one another as their guts changed.
“It’s almost like … we could press the rewind button on the aging process,” said the lead researcher, John Cryan, a neuroscientist at Univ. College Cork.
We’ve spoken before about the relationship between the gut and brain. By harnessing the power of diet and exercise, you can impact your gut health. This may be one more tool for people who need an extra boost where diet and exercise aren’t enough.
“This new research is a potential game changer, as we have established that the microbiome can be harnessed to reverse age-related brain deterioration,” said Prof. Cryan. “We also see evidence of improved learning ability and cognitive function.”
This research is obviously limited by the fact that it is mice and not humans. But, we do think it’s fascinating and holds promise for future studies. The question is, would you be interested? While it might seem a little “gross,” would you be willing to try FMT for better brain health?