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Akkermansia Muciniphila-Everything You Need to Know and MORE

Akkermansia muciniphila is a species of bacteria that resides in the gastrointestinal tract, specifically in the mucus layer that lines the intestinal wall. It was first discovered in 2004 and has since gained attention for its potential health benefits. You probably stumbled on this article after having a functional stool test run and it was discovered that your levels were either very low or below detectable limits. In today’s article, I will review everything you wanted to know about Akkermansia. I will review what akkermansia is, the role in plays in the health of the gut, and why it’s important to people who have gut inflammation. You will learn how to improve your low levels, the foods that you should start eating, and the best supplements to increase your low Akkermansia levels, stay tuned!

What Is Akkermansia Muciniphila 

Akkermansia muciniphila is considered a commensal bacterium, meaning it has a mutually beneficial relationship with its host.(*) It thrives by breaking down the mucin layer, a gel-like substance that protects the intestinal lining, and utilizes it as a source of nutrients. Research has shown that Akkermansia muciniphila plays a role in gut health and its abundance has been associated with several beneficial effects on host health.(*) These beneficial gut bacteria strengthen your gut lining, support microbiome health, and protect you from disease.(*)

Why Akkermansia Muciniphila is Important 

Low levels of Akkermansia Muciniphila is a common finding in people who have gut problems. Maybe this is someone who has been diagnosed with SIBO, Crohn’s, or Ulcerative Colitis, it might be someone who has tested positive for a Leaky Gut, or it could be someone with metabolic disorders like insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity, and autoimmune disease.(*)

So, what’s so exciting about Akkermansia Muciniphila? Well, this is what’s so exciting. Your large intestines are home to a community of microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, yeast and viruses) thousands of species of microorganisms are living in your gut and all of them have different jobs and roles when it comes to keeping your body healthy.

You probably have been hearing a lot about the gut barrier, and things like leaky gut. But did you know that our gut lining (our gut barrier) is maintained and reinforced by the bacteria I’m talking about today?

So if you get excited about talking about a leaky gut… You should be even MORE excited about the bacteria that play a role in maintaining this gut barrier.

Akkermansia thrives in the mucus layer of the intestines, but once the mucous layer thins out and is damaged, you have less Akkermansia that can help rebuild and maintain that barrier.

Why You Need to Be Concerned About Low Levels of Akkermansia?

So, when you have low levels of akkermansia on a stool test, this indicates a big problem. Unfortunately, there’s not any one thing you did to cause these levels. But as a side note, there is something I see pretty consistently with my Autoimmune, IBS, SIBO, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease patients.

Many of them, maybe even you are desperate to fix your gut. You have been from one doctor to the next. Every time you eat, your stomach hurts, you are bloated, you are reacting to all kinds of foods, things are getting worse and it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Out of desperation, you have gone on very restricted diets, maybe you have stopped eating or maybe you have gone on a very restrictive diet. You have eliminated FODMAPS, and high histamine foods, and the only thing you are eating is meat and a few vegetables here and there.

Essentially what you have done (intentionally or unintentionally) is this….you are eating a high fat, high protein, Low carb, low fiber, low polyphenol diet. You have created the perfect scenario to decimate your Akkermansia levels and many other beneficial bacteria. Sometimes this high fat, high protein, Low carb, low fiber, low polyphenol diet goes by the name of Keto or Carnivore diet. Now I don’t believe that there is any one thing responsible for chronic health issues, however, when I see how many people are turning to these diets it makes me cringe. Give it enough time and your High protein, High fat, Low Carb, Low Fiber diet will destroy your health.

As I said, I don’t believe that there is any one single thing that causes chronic health problems, but I know that Diet is our starting point for health and for disease. (***).

Understanding The Gut Barrier and Akkermansia’s Muciniphila Role

Your gastrointestinal tract is continuously being exposed to disease-causing pathogens. Every mouthful of food you take in, you are exposing your immune system to millions of bacteria and your GI tract is one of the major entry points for these pathogens.

Now, fortunately, our bodies were intelligently designed to deal with this constant threat of pathogens.

If we look at this illustration above, we can see that the gut lining is made up of a single layer of epithelial cells- It is one continuous cell sheet interconnected with tight junctions. Now sitting on top of all this, is a nice layer of mucus. Here is where things get interesting.

The mucus layer is rich in a protein called mucin, and mucin creates a a nice gel-like coating.  Not only does this mucous layer provide a physical barrier to disease-causing pathogens, but it’s loaded with all kinds of immune system-fighting cells that protect your body from toxins and other harmful agents. (*)

When you hear doctors, researchers, and nutritionists make the statement “90 of Your Immune system Is In Your Gut” this is where that 90% of your immune system in your gut is.

Just underneath that mucous layer, sits the gut barrier, and when it comes to the gut barrier, Its main function is to allow beneficial substances like nutrients, and electrolytes, to enter the body and at the same time, it “should” block opportunistic disease-causing microbes (and their toxins) from getting into our bloodstream and making us sick.

Heres What You Need to Know About the Mucous Layer of the Gut and Akkermansia

  1. The mucus lining forms a physical barrier stopping bad bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens from causing inflammation and breaking down the barrier causing a leaky gut. (*)
  2. Akkermansia happily live in that mucous layer. They eat and munch on the mucins and in turn, produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) like acetate and propionate(*) which are essential to every aspect of your health 
  3. Low levels of Akkermansia are associated with and cause mucin depletion. (*)
  4. When the mucus layer is disturbed, it will lead to a breakdown in the tight junctions and cause a leaky gut, increasing the risk of infection, inflammation, chronic disease, metabolic disorders, and problems with the immune system. (*),(*)

How To Increase Low Levels of Akkermansia

How To Increase Low Levels of Akkermansia

Short-chain fatty acids are one of the keys to a healthy gut microbiome. Not that long ago I did a video titled “Improve your gut health by increasing your short chain fatty acids” so if you don’t know what short chain fatty acids (SCFA’s) are here’s a quick review, (But I recommend at some point you go back and watch that video.)

A quick refresher on SCFAs. If you want better gut health, you need to get your short-chain fatty acid levels up and if you have low levels of Akkemansia Muciniphila you need to get these levels up as well. SCFA’s and Akkemansia Muciniphila are mutually dependent on one another.

Health Benefits Short Chain Fatty

There are 3 major types of short-chain fatty acids that we measure when we run a functional stool test. These SCFAs have names like Acetate, Propionate, and Butyrate and these are produced when bacteria eat fiber or in this case when they eat mucins.

  1. Anti-inflammatory (*)
  2. Immunoregulatory (*)
  3. Anti-obesity (*)
  4. Anti-diabetes (*)
  5. Anticancer (*)
  6. Protective to the Heart (*)
  7. Protective to the Liver (*)
  8. Protective to the nervous system (*)

So, one of the keys to rebuilding your gut health is improving the levels of short-chain fatty acids. When you increase your SCFA’s levels you encourage Akkermanisa and Mucin Production. Remember the ways you wipe out your short-chain fatty acids are with high fat, low carb, low polyphenol, low fiber diets like a Ketogenic, Carnivore diet. (*),(*),(*),(*)

best foods to eat to raise low levels of akkermansia

 Best Foods for Increasing Low Levels of Akkermansia Muciniphila

Here are some foods shown to support the growth and increase of Akkermansia muciniphila levels:

  1. Polyphenols include berries, fresh herbs, real cranberry juice, and cocoa. Specifically, the polyphenols that have been shown to increase Akermansia are Green tea extract, Pomegranate Extract (*), Grape polyphenols, Rhubarb extract, and Cranberries. Cranberries extracts contain a specific type of polyphenol called proanthocyanidins that have been shown to increase levels of Akkermansia muciniphila.
  2. Prebiotic Foods: Foods like onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and artichokes are good sources of prebiotic fibers.
  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acid-Rich Foods: Incorporate foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines), chia seeds, flaxseeds, and walnuts into your diet.
  4. Fermented Foods: Examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other naturally fermented vegetables.

Supplements That Help Increase Low Levels of Akkermansia Muciniphila

Best Supplements To Take When You Have Low Levels of  Akkermansia Muciniphila

  1. Polyphenols- Polyphenols like the ones found in PhytoPre (plant-based compounds that protect against infection, and disease, and support immunity). PhytoPre is a citrus-based Non-Fiber prebiotic formula that provides flavonoid-rich polyphenols to promote a healthy gut microbiota composition while protecting the gut mucosal barrier and enhancing gut immunity. Phyto Pre provides a safe option for individuals with Small Intestinal Bacteria Overgrowth (SIBO) a finding often seen in patients who have low Akkermanisa Mucinphila.
  2. Fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) are plant sugars that occur in fruits and vegetables things as onion, chicory, garlic, asparagus, banana, and artichoke.FOS are considered a prebiotic because they do not get digested until they reach the colon. In the colon, they are digested by good bacteria. This helps the good bacteria to grow, which is why they are used as prebiotics. Prebiotics act as food for probiotics (good bacteria). So those are Prebiotic Supplement, but research has also shown us that t
  3. Probiotics- Certain strains of probiotics are helpful to increase Akkermansia levels as well. These are going to be things like Lactobacillus rhamnosus, Bifidobacterium sp, and Lactobacillus Plantarum
  4. Amino acids like threonine, serine, proline, and cysteine all help promote the production of mucin (those sugar proteins or glycoproteins) that Akkermansia feed on.
  5. Healthy Fats A diet rich in fish oil, flax seed, and olives has been shown to increase levels of Akkermansia muciniphila.
  6. Omega 3 fatty acids. Recent studies show that omega-3 fats particularly are associated with larger gut microbiome diversity and lower inflammation markers. This in turn has been shown to encourage growth.(*)

Testing For Akkermansia

A functional stool test, also known as a comprehensive stool analysis or stool test, is a diagnostic test that examines various aspects of a person’s stool to assess the health and functioning of the digestive system. It provides valuable insights into the composition of the gut microbiome, digestive function, and other factors that can affect gastrointestinal health.

Functional stool tests typically provide information on the following aspects:

1. Gut Microbiome Analysis: This analysis reveals the types and relative abundance of bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other microorganisms present in the stool. It gives an overview of the microbial balance in the gut and can help identify any imbalances or dysbiosis.

2. Digestive Function: The test may assess several markers related to digestive function, including the presence of digestive enzymes, markers of inflammation, and biochemical markers that provide information on nutrient absorption and gut barrier integrity.

3. Inflammatory Markers: Stool tests can measure various markers of inflammation, such as calprotectin and or lactoferrin, which indicate the presence of inflammation in the gut. Elevated levels of these markers may suggest conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) or other gastrointestinal disorders.

4. Parasite and Pathogen Detection: Functional stool tests can screen for a wide range of intestinal parasites, such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and other potentially harmful pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

5. Occult Blood: The presence of occult (hidden) blood in stool can indicate bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, which may be associated with conditions like colorectal cancer, polyps, or other sources of bleeding.

Functional stool tests can provide valuable information for individuals experiencing digestive symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, or abdominal pain. This information can help guide appropriate treatment approaches, including dietary modifications, targeted supplementation, prebiotics, probiotics, or antimicrobial therapy when necessary.

It’s important to note that functional stool tests should be interpreted and used in conjunction with clinical evaluation by qualified healthcare professionals. They can help guide personalized treatment plans and address underlying gut health issues, but their use and interpretation should be done by professionals experienced in functional medicine or functional nutrition.

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