Don’t be so quick to dismiss those annoying fruit flies as pests. These little guys can help slow down the aging process and the problems with health that are brought on by aging according to research done by the Salk Institute of Biological Studies.
The benefits to help humans fight back against aging are found in the intestines of young fruit flies. The flies have a gene known as PG-1 that resides in their intestines. Just like this little insect, humans also have the same PG-1 gene – only ours is in the DNA makeup of our bodies.
The studies done showed that thanks to this gene present in their intestines, the fruit flies not only have a slower aging process, but they live longer too! The common link between the intestines of the fruit fly and human genetics shows that our small intestines are much like the intestines of the fly.
The biology behind the energy in the cells is mitochondria. This is what enables cells to do their job – divide, move, contract, etc. Mitochondria is basically the control tower within the cell. These cells that live within animals and fruit flies are controlled by the same PG-1 gene.
What researchers found was that by encouraging the energy of the gene dPGC-1, which is a similar gene between humans and the fruit fly, the membranes in the cells were increased.
These same cell membranes that give energy (and the reason the flies live longer) is due to calorie restricting. Prior studies have also shown that restricting calories results in longer lives for animals, too.
Researchers studied the link between mitochondria and a longer life span and concluded that increasing the energy of the dPGC-1 resulted in mitochondria growth and energy growth.
This same result is what happens when calories are limited. As the energy level grew within the cells, it restored tissue within the intestines. The study showed that by changing the gene to increase activity, anti-aging results were achieved and the fruit flies observed within the study showed they were more active and vigorous than their counterparts without gene changes.
The recent research shows that the PG-1 gene is an important agent in anti-aging studies and offers the promise that drugs to keep aging at bay might be on the horizon. The importance of isolating the effects of the PG-1 gene against aging shows that by preserving the vitality and health within the intestines, other areas within the body could also benefit from the age slowing benefits of the gene.