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Photo: Stocksy/Susana Ramirez

We might have held the key to the fountain of youth all along—in the form of bacteria, that is. According to a new study, a range of chemicals found in the gut could play a major role in slowing down the aging process.

If you’ve never heard of indoles, you’ll definitely want to remember the name now: The phytochemicals—which are what makes poop stinky, FYI (or should I say TMI)—have been shown to help animals retain a youthful gene expression profile. So, what does that mean for us? They may improve how well we age (our health span), as opposed to just making us live longer (our life span).

They may improve how well we age (our health span), as opposed to just making us live longer (our life span).

In the study, researchers separated geriatric worms, mice, and flies into two groups: One was exposed to indole-producing bacteria, and one was not. The findings showed the animals that produced indoles had a longer health span compared to the ones that didn’t. The indole-exposed  group was better off physically, more resistant to infection, and remained free of age-related infirmities.

Though research hasn’t caught up to this finding impacting the human health span, it’s definitely a positive step in youthful direction. For all we know, soon we could be living to 120 years—and still hitting up yoga classes while we’re at it.

Love hot yoga? Your obsession could be damaging your skin. And if you want to reap some impressive anti-aging benefits, add these three foods to your diet.