December 16, 2021 7 min read
Akkermansia Muciniphila is a type of bacteria that can be found in the human gut. It's a beneficial microbe that strengthens the gut linings and can help to keep your gut healthy.
Akkermansia belongs to the species' Verrucomicrobia' and is a symbiotic bacterium of the mucus layer. It has been isolated and characterized as a mucin-utilizing specialist, using mucin as its only carbon, nitrogen, and energy source. Akkermansia is the sole member of Verrucomicrobia in the intestinal tract of humans and animals and is easy to detect, so its probiotic effects have been researched widely and robustly proven.
"As a Registered Dietician, clients often ask me how to increase the Akkermansia levels in their gut. Research has linked higher levels of Akkermansia with many health benefits," says Kristin Neusel, MS, RDN, LD, CDCES.
Akkermansia muciniphila is difficult to come by, though. It is an anaerobic organism — which means it can only survive somewhere that is entirely free of oxygen — like the gut, for example. Even the slightest amount of oxygen exposure will kill Akkermansia, so there have not been any supplements on the market the directly contain Akkermansia muciniphila.
However, the good news is that there are multiple ways to grow, produce, and boost Akkermansia in your gut. In addition, there are numerous foods that Akkermansia muciniphila feeds on — prebiotic foods such as apple peels, beet roots, pomegranate, strawberry — that can help keep healthy levels of Akkermansia in the gut.
You can also choose a supplement, such as an HMO prebiotic, which contains specialized prebiotic fiber that encourages the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila. Research has found Akkermansia can degrade HMO and utilize HMO as their carbon source.
The health benefits? They are numerous. Most tangibly, you may notice that your natural energy levels increase and sluggishness decrease.
The probiotic wonder-bacteria that is often mentioned alongside Akkermansia muciniphila (a. muciniphila) is Bifidobacterium. Specifically, Bifidobacterium infantis is hugely beneficial for the gut. According to multiple research studies, if you lack Akkermansia Muciniphila, you are more likely to be afflicted by disease. Researchers have shown that the disturbance of A. muciniphila abundance is associated with various conditions such as metabolic syndromes, autoimmune diseases, cardiometabolic diseases, gastrointestinal disorders, and cancer.
Irregular shifts in the gut microbiota composition contribute to the pathogenesis of diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. Daily supplementation of A. muciniphila for five weeks significantly reduced body weight gain and fat mass in test subjects. Glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity were also improved by A. muciniphila supplementation.
Dysbiosis of the intestinal microbiome is related to diseases like Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), type 1 diabetes, and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). A. muciniphila is present in abundance in the healthy human gut but is reduced in individuals with these diseases. Adding akkermansia has shown significant efficacy in treating autoimmune disorders when administered orally.
Dysbiosis (reduction in microbial diversity and a combination of the loss of beneficial bacteria such as Bacteroides strains and butyrate-producing bacteria) is associated with hypertension and atherosclerosis. A. mucininphila was found to improve gut barrier functions and exert protective effects against these two diseases.
An inverse relationship exists between A. muciniphila and intestinal inflammation, such as IBD (inflammatory bowel disease). Akkermansia was shown to improve the gut barrier partially via its outer membrane protein Amuc_1100 that interacts with Toll-like receptor 2, revealing its protective pathway against IBD.
One study showed that A. muciniphila was significantly enriched in cancer patients who responded to PD-1 treatment (PD-1 is a checkpoint protein on immune cells called T cells. It usually acts as a type of "off switch" that helps keep the T cells from attacking other cells in the body. It does this when it attaches to PD-L1, a protein on some normal and cancer cells. When PD-1 binds to PD-L1, it tells the T cell to leave the other cell alone. Some cancer cells have large amounts of PD-L1, which helps them hide from an immune attack) compared to non-responders, suggesting that A. muciniphila may enhance anticancer immunotherapy efficacy such as anti-PD-1 treatment.
Studies have shown a negative correlation between Akkermansia muciniphila abundance and overweight, obesity, untreated type 2 diabetes mellitus, or hypertension in humans. So, people with those diseases tend not to have Akkermansia muciniphila very present in their gut.
At least one study has also shown that even supplementation of akkermansia among subjects who were overweight/obese resulted in a decrease in body weight, fat mass, and hip circumference. After three months of supplementation, A. muciniphila reduced the levels of the relevant blood markers for liver dysfunction and inflammation. The conclusion was that A. muciniphila improves several metabolic parameters in humans.
It's not possible to just directly supplement with Akkermansia muciniphila. This is partly because it cannot live in environments with oxygen, so it is very tricky to create Akkermansia in supplement form. However, there are some other highly effective methods to boost the amount of A. muciniphila in your gut.
Supplement with HMOs (Human Milk Oligosaccharides)
Human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) are a key component of breast milk that feeds the intestinal microbiota and drive the maturation of the infant's gut. Akkermansia feeds off the HMO, which is prebiotic. This cross-feeding reaction is well known. Here is one of our verified customers' gut test result after taking HMO.
Eat the skins of apples
The prebiotic fiber found predominantly in the peels of apples (usually most abundant in red apples) is a powerhouse for feeding Akkermansia muciniphila in the gut. The fiber enters the system and goes undigested. It makes its way to the intestines, where it acts as a prebiotic, feeding the probiotic bacteria.
Consume Cranberry extract or Concord grape polyphenols
Interestingly, studies have shown that eating the whole grape was not adequate for producing Akkermansia, but the polyphenols from the skin were.
Consume Rhubarb extract
It contains anthraquinone derivatives which have been reported with anticancer and hepatoprotective activities. It is likely the anthraquinone derivatives in Rhubarb extract that are responsible for modulating gut microbiota and increasing A. muciniphila abundance.
Avoid high-fat diets and alcohol
Studies have consistently shown that a high-fat diet significantly reduced A. muciniphila abundance in different animal models. A treatment of a high-fat diet (60% fat) for as short as eight weeks on mice led to a 100-fold decrease of A. muciniphila, and alcohol intake (30% w/v, 6 g/kg body weight) also caused a 100-fold decrease in the relative abundance of A. muciniphila in the fecal bacterial content of mice.
For such a previously esoteric bacterium, A. muciniphila sure is gaining a lot of attention lately. A lot of the attention was sparked by the author Joel Greene, who wrote extensively about the benefits of A. muciniphila in his 2020 book, The Immunity Code.
Greene discussed its role in improved gut barrier function and weight loss. In addition, functional medicine doctor and social media superstar, Mark Hyman, has also been discussing A. muciniphila as of late.
Dr. Hyman says that Akkermansia Muciniphila accounts for 1 to 5 percent of our gut microbiome.7
"Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium are considered the superstars (or should I say, "superbugs"?) of gut microbiome research because their abundance is linked to better health outcomes and less risk of chronic diseases like obesity, Alzheimer's disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
However, emerging research shows promise for Akkermansia as the next generation of beneficial gut microbes. Increasing my Akkermansia levels was a key part of restoring my gut function and getting my health back on track.
It's been linked to positive health outcomes like weight loss, improved insulin resistance, lower inflammation, and more," writes Dr. Hyman.
Hyman explains that A. muciniphila produces propionate and acetate, two short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), as a byproduct of the A. muciniphila feeding on mucin. The SCFAs feed other beneficial gut bacteria to make butyrate, another SCFA and a vital energy source for cells. This is a cross-feeding reaction.7
Hyman explains that SCFAs strengthen tight junctions holding intestinal cells together and prevent unwanted materials from passing through. When those materials (allergens, toxins, fecal matter, food particles, etc.) pass through, you are dealing with "Leaky Gut" aka intestinal hyperpermeability.7
Hyman raves about A. muciniphila stating that it is also effective in preventing and treating chronic diseases because of how it produces anti-inflammatory molecules and reduces inflammation.
He suggests increasing A. muciniphila in your gut by eating plenty of plant foods that contain prebiotics and polyphenols. Dr. Hyman explicitly recommends foods with ellagic acid, a polyphenol prevalent in berries, and some nuts. He says A. muciniphila also loves catechins and tannins from green tea.
The Akkermansia Increasing Gut Repair Shake!Try making a shake/smoothie following this recipe to increase your levels of A. muciniphila:
1 scoop PureHMO® Super Prebiotic Powder by Layer Origin Nutrition
1 tablespoon pomegranate concentrate by Lakewood Organic
1 tablespoon cranberry concentrate by Lakewood Organic
1 teaspoon match green tea powder by Navitas
1 scoop collagen powder
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