Bacteria Spotlight: Akkermansia muciniphila
What is Akkermansia muciniphila?
Akkermansia Muciniphila is a mucous-degrading, keystone bacteria found in the gut microbiome, mainly in the large intestine. This bug lives in harmony with our other "commensal" flora, including other bacteria, yeast, protozoa, virus', etc.
It plays an important role in the modulation of the mucosal lining, as well as intestinal barrier integrity (it's basically really important for our intestinal lining).
Akkermanisia muciniphila may also have a promising influence in cases like metabolic syndrome, obesity, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
What does akkermansia do?
We just mentioned above that Akkermansia is a "mucous-degrader," but what does that mean?
We have a mucous layer that lines our intestinal tract, and keeps our immune system separate from the inner world of our intestinal tract. Within the outer mucosal layer, much of our gut microbiome resides, including Akkermansia!
This particular strain actually uses this mucin (the mucous), as fuel. It "eats" this mucin, degrading it, and actually produces healing SCFA (short-chain fatty acids), as a byproduct. We love short-chain fatty acids. They are a fuel source for the cells that make up our intestinal lining. You can learn more about SCFA's and why they're important, here.
It's thought that this degradation of the mucin, increases its turnover rate, which therefore increases mucin production from cells called "goblet cells," which use SCFA's for fuel.
To learn more about why our intestinal lining is so important (hint: "leaky gut" can contribute to things like fatigue, skin issues, systemic inflammation, brain fog, and more), you can learn more here.
Pretty cool stuff.
While science still has a lot to understand and uncover, we're beginning to understand how Akkermansia specifically plays a role in things like obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Akkermansia was shown to reduce insulin resistance, metabolic endotoxemia, and inflammation in adipose tissue. This species may also lower LPS (lipopolysaccharide) levels in the blood, which can contribute to inflammation.
Very promising for those who currently suffer from obesity, metabolic syndrome, and either type 1 or type 2 diabetes!
How do we increase Akkermansia mucinphila levels?
Incorporating specific foods into your nutrition on a daily basis can be helpful to support healthy akkermansia muciniphila levels.
One category of nutrients that are particularly important is polyphenols.
Polyphenols, in particular, may promote the growth and abundance of akkermansia found in the gut. Polyphenols are compounds found in plants, things like: anthocyanins, flavones, phenolic acid, lignans, etc., that have antioxidant and antimicrobial properties, that can really benefit our good bugs, akkermansia included.
To get polyphenols in, think colourful foods. Deeply colorful foods. Think eating the rainbow. Dark berries, pomegranate, dark chocolate, green tea, colourful fruits and veggies. The more variety, the better.
Likewise, it's always really important to make sure that you're always "feeding" your microbiome with the nutrients that it needs. Here are a few things to consider:
Aim for 6 cups a day of vegetables and fruit (and aim for a variety!) — this will help ensure you're getting lots of good fiber that your gut-bugs love to eat
Incorporate prebiotic fibers: onion, garlic, chicory, sunchokes, asparagus, plantain flower, green banana, etc. are all high in prebiotics (prebiotic fibers are super important, as this is what these little guys feed on in order to create healing short-chain fatty acids!)
To learn more about probiotics that I love, and how to further take care of your gut and your microbiome, check out my FREE Beginner's Guide to Gut Healing.
Akkermansia muciniphila is a keystone bacteria within the human gut microbiome, and provide us with a ton of health benefits!
It's important for maintaining a healthy mucosal lining, and intestinal barrier integrity
It may also play important roles in metabolic dysfunctions like obesity, metabolic syndrome, and both type 1 and type 2 diabetes
To get more of these strains, consume a variety of plant foods, that include a variety of polyphenols
Support your gut microbiome through a variety of plant foods every day, especially through prebiotic fibers
If you dig deeper into your microbiome and see what your Akkermansia levels look like, check out my programs Gut Reset Program and Gut Rehab Intensive, where you'll have access to stool testing that can give you a deeper look into your gut microbiome.