Reviewed by the BioHackers Lab Team | Last updated: May 25, 2020

In today’s interview, I get to speak with microbiome research scientist, Dr Michael Lustgarten, PhD.

We talk about how the health of our gut microbiome can slow down ageing.

Michael is very passionate about studying ways in which we can increase our longevity.

We get a chance to talk about some of the main hallmarks of ageing and how the health of our gut can slow down these processes.

If you know someone who is interested in learning more about:

  • Healthy aging and longevity,
  • How the gut microbiome affects this
  • How to improve the microbiome

Then this interview is for them.

I really enjoyed this interview with Michael who shared some of his interesting personal experiments.

More and more research is continually coming out in this area, and it is becoming clear that the microbiome plays a key role in our health.

So, whether we want to resolve a specific health issue or slow down the ageing process Michael shares some important things to consider when trying to improve our gut microbiome.

Special thanks to Michael for joining me on the show.

Enjoy the episode!

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Speaker Links

Dr Michael Lustgarten
Dr Michael Lustgarten, PhD: Microbiome Scientist

Follow, or find out more about, Michael on these official links:

Show Notes with Timestamp Links

Find summarised highlights of what we talk about during the interview.

Use the clickable timestamp links to jump direct to those points in the audio file below:

[00:20] – Introducing, Dr Michael Lustgarten, PhD, Scientist II in the Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging. His research currently focuses on the role of the gut microbiome and serum metabolome on muscle mass and function in older adults. In addition to his contributions to numerous scientific publications, he is the author of a book titled Microbial Burden: A Major Cause Of Aging And Age-Related Disease.

(BioHackers Lab tip: Listen to our interview with Dr Amy Proal for more about the what is the microbiome & its role in disease)

[01:39] – Michael explains how the microbiome affects the 4 leading hallmarks of ageing covered in his book; telomere shortening, oxidative stress, inflammation & insulin resistance.

[04:32] – Studies with rodents show that high caloric diets stimulate the breakdown of the gut barrier which allows microbes to enter the bloodstream and negatively affect cells accelerating ageing.

[05:29] – Because the health of our gut lining determines how well we age, Michael recommends a high-fiber diet as a strategy to help the bacteria in the microbiome improve gut lining function.

[06:41] – Michael explains how too much protein may decrease gut barrier function, but also the flip side of making sure there’s enough protein in the diet to maintain muscle mass and specific amino-acids that actually help maintain the gut barrier.

[10:11] – What biomarkers should we be looking at in blood tests to determine if we’re getting the right amount of protein in our diet?

[14:18] – We discuss sarcopenia and how to deal with it in terms of protein intake and kidney function.

(BioHackers Lab tip: Listen to our interview with Prof Stuart Phillips for advice on how much protein you should have to avoid muscle loss)

[17:09] – There’s lots of success stories coming out from people fixing their intestinal permeability by going on a strict carnivore diet. Michael advocates a personalised approach and tracking your blood work to ensure the diet isn’t causing any other health issues.

(BioHackers Lab tip: Listen to our interviews with Dr Zsofia Clemens and Mikhaila Peterson for information about the health benefits of the carnivore diet)

[21:25] – Michael explains that while he has been tracking his glucose levels he is considering doing his insulin as well. Glucose levels aren’t always indicative of insulin resistance, which is a major marker for ageing.

[23:01] – On his website, Michael has shared an interesting experiment where he adjusted his gut microbiome to try and improve his deep sleep. He believes the gut plays a strong role on influencing how well the brain functions.

(BioHackers Lab tip: Listen to our interview with Dr Ben Bikman PhD for more info on insulin and insulin resistance)

[27:25] – For people looking to improve their microbiome health with probiotic supplements, Michael recommends starting by getting their microbiome analysed, figuring out if there are specific bacteria they want to increase and rechecking the microbiome after supplementation.

[31:22] – What’s Michael’s take on faecal transplants? Like probiotic supplements, these can be used to seed desirable bacteria that are lacking in the microbiome. However, Michael warns that unless you address the underlying issues, the biome will revert back to its original state.

[35:26] – What about using faecal transplants for longevity reasons? Michael believes that a good diet and exercise should be the priority as the benefits are well known.

[37:41] – Michael talks about the complex interactions between different microbes in our gut (bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea) and how little we really know about this.

[40:32] – An increase in adipose tissue as we age may be a compensatory mechanism against the microbial burden.

[42:57] – On his mission to improve his longevity, how does Michael handle fat in terms of its benefits versus it being a potential indicator for microbial burden? Michael shares some tips that can help you stay on the right track.

[46:02] – Cellular ageing still happens without the microbiome. Even though we can improve longevity by optimising the microbiome, to truly extend our lives beyond a current limits, we’ll need to address the issue of cellular ageing.

[46:59] – Mitochondria affect longevity, and increases of circulating mtDNA can be an indicator of microbial burden.

(BioHackers Lab tip: Listen to our interview with Dr Lee Know to learn more about how mitochondria affect longevity)

[50:16] – Michael shares that the current focus of his experiments is his biological age and how to keep it as low as possible.

[53:03] – To follow Michael and find out more, he has Twitter and Facebook @michael_lustgarten, and also his website If someone wants to send him an email they can find it on his research papers.