It’s rare for a week to go by without probiotics hitting the headlines. Over the past few years they have been championed for boosting the levels of good bacteria in your gut. And, a well-balanced, healthy gut as been linked to a stronger immune system, higher energy levels and better skin. More recently, a study has gone one step further and suggested that combining probiotics and an Indian herb could help you help you live longer.
Yes, you read that correctly. A study, published in Scientific Reports, found that when fruit flies were given a blend of probiotics and triphala they lived for up to 66 days rather than the usual 26 – a 60 percent life extension. Before the cynics complain that humans are very different to a mere fruit fly, professor of biomedical engineering at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and senior author of the study, Satya Prakash told Science Daily, ‘The fruit fly is remarkably similar to mammals with about 70 percent similarity in terms of their biochemical pathways, making it a good indicator of what would happen in humans.’
Admittedly, it is likely that the results would be less spectacular in humans, but Prakash is adamant, ‘A diet specifically incorporating triphala along with these probiotics will promote a long and healthy life.’
So, what is triphala?
A blend of three fruits (amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki), triphala has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It’s often referred to as ‘tummy tonic’ and is used for constipation. It is good at alleviating stubborn constipation and detoxifying your body. Last year, a study described triphala as key for, ‘efficient digestion, absorption, elimination, and rejuvenation’. You might not have come across them previously, but triphala supplements are available – Pukka Herbs Wholistic Triphala, £15.45, is a good place to start.
What about probiotics?
It’s generally considered that most people would benefit from taking a good quality probiotic supplement, as a lot of us don’t eat enough fibre or fermented foods to get sufficient amounts of good bacteria. Whether you want to drink or swallow your bacteria, there is a supplement to suit your needs. Shabir regularly recommends Mega Probiotic ND, £19.50, by Food Science of Vermont, because the supplement contains eight strains of the most researched beneficial bacteria and is a very good all-rounder.
How to find the right probiotic for you
There are hundreds of different probiotic supplements available and it can be incredibly confusing. If you’re looking for something more targeted, it’s worth taking the time to read Shabir’s piece on What Can’t Probiotics Do, which outlines the best probiotic depending on your concern.
While a brand is yet to create the winning combination of probiotic and triphala in one capsule, at least we can introduce both into our routine and who knows, we might live until we’re 100.