The Difference Between Good and Bad Gut Organisms and Where Akkermansia Bacteria Fit In
The human gut hosts trillions of microorganisms. Some are beneficial, others harmful, while Akkermansia bacteria appear to play a regulatory support role. If you had studied biology at school, you would have been taught about the various components of the gastrointestinal tract and their role in digestion and nutrition. For the body to absorb the essential nutrients present in food, complex molecules like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins must first be broken down into smaller, soluble compounds by enzyme action. For example, the stomach secretes hydrochloric acid and pepsin to start the digestion of proteins. Later in the process, alkaline bile produced by the liver and pancreatic enzymes act to break down fats and continue protein digestion in the small intestine. However, no reference is usually made to the equally crucial role played by those trillions of diverse bacteria that inhabit every healthy human gut. They are collectively known as the gut microbiome.
Beneficial Species Control Potentially Pathogenic Species With Support from Akkermansia Bacteria
Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter jejuni are among the most common causes of food poisoning. Adequate preparation, cooking, and food storage measures are generally sufficient to protect one from the risk of infection. Nevertheless, small numbers of these pathogenic organisms can often be found in an otherwise healthy gut. However, thanks to the predominance of so-called good bacteria or commensal bacteria, the pathogens are kept under control and cease to pose a threat. The combined activities of these beneficial species help to maintain and enhance your gut’s health. So, where do the Akkermansia bacteria feature in this crucial balancing act? This organism has several species, and while most have the same role as the other commensals, one species displays a unique and critical action, namely Akkermansia muciniphila.
- muciniphila as a Species of Akkermansia Bacteria and Its Link to Gut Health
Many genera of microorganisms consist of multiple species, so it is not uncommon for some of the latter to remain undiscovered. In 2004, Professor Willem de Vos of Wageningen University in the Netherlands isolated and identified a previously unknown species of Akkermansia bacteria with some unique properties. With Professor Patrice D. Cani of the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium, they uncovered more details of the new species known as A. muciniphila and its role in maintaining intestinal health. The organism was found to be a “cross-feeder”, metabolising mucins produced by the gut lining to produce short-chain fatty acids. This action gives rise to two significant benefits.
- By feeding on mucins produced internally, the species can exist independently of dietary fibre from external sources.
- The short-chain fatty acids produced by these mucinophilic Akkermansia bacteria provide an invaluable nutrient source to promote and maintain the growth of other beneficial microbes in the gut.
These alone are compelling reasons for humans to consider boosting the intake of Akkermansia. Good bacteria in the gut microbiome are pivotal in enhancing immune health and managing weight. Click here to learn how a food supplement containing a combination of EGCG Green Tea, Chromium, Vitamin B12 and pasteurised Akkermansia muciniphila can help manage weight loss* and glucose control**.