It’s fairly well known today that the human gut is inhabited by trillions of microorganisms, in other words, gut bacteria. I think of it as a city of gut bugs that can regulate my health, and consequently expression of disease. Over the last few decades, our understanding of this symbiotic relationship between us as the host and those bacteria in our guts has increased exponentially.
Gut dysbiosis has been proposed to be a risk factor for the development of several diseases, those that are tied directly to the gut like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), but metabolic diseases like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease (Alzheimer and Parkinson’s), and even cancer. Imbalanced gut microbiota also influences the development of autoimmune disease. The gut truly is the main place to start looking at root cause for symptoms and subsequently disease. Therefore, restoring a balanced microbiota so that the gut-immune axis is balanced has been increasingly studied as a therapeutic strategy for these diseases.
Dysbiosis is simply an imbalance between the types of organisms (gut bugs) present in a person’s natural microbiota in the gut. Dysbiosis is caused by any kind of imbalance in the microbiome. It can be caused by bacterial overgrowth, parasites, fungi, or simply a lack of adequate beneficial flora. Dysbiosis often results from antibiotic use, overconsumption of processed carbohydrates, alcohol overuse, stress, coffee, and dysfunction north of the intestines.
One of those beneficial flora is Akkermansia muciniphila (A. muciniphila). This particular bacterium colonizes the intestinal tract early in life and comprises 3% of the total microbiota in healthy adults. It is considered a keystone bacterium, because it has unique functions that are essential for the balance of the microbiome ecosystem. In many instances, both the presence or absence of these keystone species are associated with health or disease. A. muciniphila contributes to the maintenance of a healthy gut barrier, thereby regulating immunity, and limits the onset of inflammation, which is the root cause of numerous diseases.
Having a healthy amount of A. muciniphila:
Reduces meta inflammation in the adipose tissue to help with weight loss resistance.
Reinforces the gut barrier and reduces inflammation.
Improves liver function.
Reduces insulin resistance.
Things you can be doing to increase your A. muciniphila
The microorganisms feed on the gut mucus which is made from butyrate. Butyrate is made from dietary fiber, one of the reasons making sure you have certain kinds of fiber in your diet is key. If there is no butyrate, there are no benefical bacteria. Foods to consider including are pomegranate, nuts, grapes, berries, and green tea. A teaspoon of acacia fiber daily can also be helpful. The polyphenols in green tea, grape seeds, and pomegranate seeds have been shown to support a healthy environment for A. muciniphila, so it can thrive in the gut microbiome.
Because the gut is the center pointe for many conditions, I start looking here for root cause. Specifically, if you have the following conditions, I recommend a stool test to evaluate the microbiome further:
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
Digestive symptoms (bloating, diarrhea, or constipation)
Skin problems like acne, eczema, or psoriasis
Mood disorders, depression, and anxiety
Diabetes and weight loss resistance
I use two different functional tests to find out the levels of Akkermansia – either the GI MAP or the Gut Zoomer. The GI MAP uses qPCR DNA technology to measure the amount of the organisms DNA present in the stool sample. This helps identify the clinical significance of pathogenic organisms and dysbiosis patterns. With this information I can create a personalized restorative protocol that addresses the gut dysfunction. The Gut Zoomer uses a proprietary technology that analyzes over 300 microorganisms to provide a comprehensive analysis of the gut microbiome.
If you are interesting in my Gut Healing Package - set up a Discovery Call to discuss.