June 03, 2022 7 min read
As we enter the chores of our daily routine, we hope to be joined by the ensemble of pieces required to meet and complete the daily puzzles we have to negotiate. Sometimes, a piece may be missing, it is then we can identify and realize even if only small, its importance. Here we are reminded that each part is just as important as the other, especially if these puzzles are to be complete and things are to run nice and smooth, without discord.
Well, the same can be said of the gut ecosystem that resides in each of us. The trillions of bacteria whose habitat is your gut, face their own cycle of chores. Each colony with its specific part to play, be it as an individual or as part of an army united with other colonies of bacteria, stands ready to repel invaders to protect their environment and your health.
Just the same as us, their fight is made easier if the ensemble is complete. Enter Eubacterium eligens (E. eligens). E. eligens is part of the phylum known as Firmicutes. One of the jobs of this group of bacteria is to keep our colon healthy. They help to achieve this by producing butyrate which has numerous health benefits for humans.
There isn’t much information on E. eligens, but it is known to be rod-shaped and research shows that it can promote the production of anti-inflammatory products. In fact. the research uses the word “strongly” when explaining how E. eligens promotes the production of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10)[i].
What an exciting place we are in, poised ready to absorb the new science that will unfold, as the research continues to help us understand this fantastic health-promoting microscopic organism.
E. eligens is an important Eubacterium found in the human colon. The genusEubacteriumis a gram-positive bacteria found in the family,Eubacteriaceae. Eubacterium spp. are natural residents of the human gut flora.
Members of this family are important because many produce the SCFA, butyrate which has important roles in energy and gut homeostasis. However, this genus consists of some diverse species and has also been shown to have important roles in bile acid and cholesterol transformation[ii].
Eubacterium eligens has been listed as one of the 15 ‘good’ gut microbes in the PREDICT 1 study. Scientists have found its presence in most people’s guts, and it has some important health-promoting roles, such as:
Let’s take a look at some of those important findings.
E. eligensis a member of the Firmicutesphylum, important butyrate producers that also have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a defence mechanism that the body elicits in response to illness or injury[iv]. It may be short-lived in response to a recent injury, or it can be chronic, and this can have a detrimental effect on your overall health and wellbeing.
However, there are important signalling molecules that can help to limit the effects of inflammation, such as cytokines. What’s that got to do with bacteria? Well, a major role of E. eligensis it can promote the production of a particular anti-inflammatory cytokine called interleukin-10[v] [vi].
But how does the cytokine IL-10 work?
The anti-inflammatory cytokine works by limiting the host’s immune response to pathogens during bacterial infection[vii]. Research shows that IL-10 is important in the body’s immune response to pathogens, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Escherichia coli,and Mycobacterium tuberculosis.It does this by downregulating the expression of Th1 cytokines as well as inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, the ones that promote inflammation in the body.
However, in the gut, emerging research shows that IL-10 may be an important player in determining the health status of its host. Without the production of the cytokine IL-10 or even deficiency in production, the door could be left wide open to invading pathogens which could give rise to several chronic or even autoimmune diseases[viii]. This is why E. eligens is a ‘good bacteria‘, one you need on your team.
Most of us are aware that belly fat, or visceral fat as it’s known in the scientific world, is detrimental to human health. That’s because this type of fat is stored around your abdominal organs, so it’s not always visible or possible to feel.
Because visceral fat surrounds vital organs such as the pancreas, liver, and intestines, its presence can increase the risk of health complications, like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle is the biggest contributor to visceral fat, with poor diet and lack of exercise being main factors. Interestingly, there is a misconception that drinking beer can lead to an accumulation of belly fat or a ‘beer belly’. However, research has shown that drinking beer doesn’t specifically increase belly fat but increases body weight in general[ix].
In a study conducted in 2020 involving 32 obese adults and 30 healthy controls, it was found that individuals with lower levels of visceral fat had an increased abundance of E. eligens[x]. That means in the future the gut microbiome could offer specific pathways for targeted therapies for metabolic disordersx.
Just like Faecalibacterium Prausnitzii,the PREDICT Study found a link between E. eligensin the gut and lower insulin levels and increased polyunsaturated fats. You can find out more by reading our ‘What is Faecalibacterium Prausnitzii?’ blog.
The ingestion of specific dietary fibres or non-digestible carbohydrates has been shown to be an effective way to manipulate the composition of your gut microbiome for health benefits[xi]. It is particularly effective if you include prebiotics, a type of fibre that helps to nourish your gut microbes, stimulating their growth or activity, ultimately improving your health[xii].
E. eligens is actually partial to a specific prebiotic called apple pectin. Pectin is a type of fibre found in the cell walls of plants, and you guessed it, apple pectin is found in apples. Eubacterium eligens is known to be an apple pectin degrader and uses it as a growth substrate[xiii]. In other words, it likes to have a good chomp on apple products.
Remember though, to help improve the diversity of your gut microbiome it is essential to eat a healthy and varied diet. So, make sure you eat plenty of foods like vegetables, fruits, and wholegrains – the fibrous foods your gut microbes love to eat.
Although research into E.eligensis in its infancy, it has some interesting and useful benefits for human health. It is a member of the Firmicutesphylum, a group of bacteria renowned for their butyrate production, but E.eligensalso has some potent anti-inflammatory properties.
There is also a link between an increased abundance of this bacteria and a reduction in visceral fat. Overall, E. eligensmay be a useful target for health interventions in the future. Remember, you can help to diversify your individual gut microbiome by eating a healthy, balanced diet, packed with fibre, as well as leading a generally good lifestyle. And by that, we don’t just mean diet, factors such as regular exercise, good sleep, and limited stress are also important.
A science writer who specialises in human health and enjoys writing about all things related to the gut microbiome.
[i] Hakansson A, Molin G. Gut microbiota and inflammation. Nutrients. 2011 Jun;3(6):637-82. doi: 10.3390/nu3060637. Epub 2011 Jun 3. PMID: 22254115; PMCID: PMC3257638.
[ii] Wing Sun Faith Chung, Marjolein Meijerink, Birgitte Zeuner, Jesper Holck, Petra Louis, Anne S. Meyer, Jerry M. Wells, Harry J. Flint, Sylvia H. Duncan, Prebiotic potential of pectin and pectic oligosaccharides to promote anti-inflammatory commensal bacteria in the human colon, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Volume 93, Issue 11, November 2017, fix127, https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fix127
[iii] Mukherjee A, Lordan C, Ross P & Paul D. Cotter. Gut microbes from the phylogenetically diverse genus Eubacterium and their various contributions to gut health, Gut Microbes, 12:1. August 2020 DOI: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1802866
[iv] Hewings-Martin Y & Giordano F. What is Eubacterium eligens and why is she a ‘good’ bug? April 2022. Available at: https://joinzoe.com/learn/what-is-eubacterium-eligens
[v] Chung W S F, Meijerink M, Zeuner B, Holck J, Louis P, Meyer A S, Wells J M, Flint H J, Duncan S H. Prebiotic potential of pectin and pectic oligosaccharides to promote anti-inflammatory commensal bacteria in the human colon, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, Volume 93, Issue 11, November 2017, fix127, https://doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fix127
[vi] Chung WSF, Meijerink M, Zeuner B, Holck J, Louis P, Meyer AS, Wells JM, Flint HJ, Duncan SH. Prebiotic potential of pectin and pectic oligosaccharides to promote anti-inflammatory commensal bacteria in the human colon. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2017 Nov 1;93(11). doi: 10.1093/femsec/fix127. PMID: 29029078.
[vii] Peñaloza HF, Noguera LP, Riedel CA and Bueno SM. Expanding the Current Knowledge About the Role of Interleukin-10 to Major Concerning Bacteria. Front. Microbiol. 9:2047. September 2018. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.02047
[viii] Iyer SS, Cheng G. Role of interleukin 10 transcriptional regulation in inflammation and autoimmune disease. Crit Rev Immunol. 2012;32(1):23-63. doi: 10.1615/critrevimmunol.v32.i1.30. PMID: 22428854; PMCID: PMC3410706.
[ix] Nauli A M and Matin S. Why Do Men Accumulate Abdominal Visceral Fat? Front. Physiol. 10:1486. December 2021. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2019.01486
[x] Nie X, Chen J, Ma X, Ni Y, Shen Y, Yu H, Panagiotou G, Bao Y. A metagenome-wide association study of gut microbiome and visceral fat accumulation. Comput Struct Biotechnol J. 2020 Sep 20;18:2596-2609. doi: 10.1016/j.csbj.2020.09.026. PMID: 33033580; PMCID: PMC7528071.
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