akkermansia
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Dr. Matt French

Akkermansia Muciniphila

Next Generation Probiotic

The human gut contains over 1000 species of bacteria numbering over 10 trillion cells, and science continues to unlock the complex interactions this entire ecosystem has on our health. A species of great interest recently is the probiotic, Akkermansia Muciniphila. First discovered in 2004, this bacterium is linked to numerous health metrics. Those with higher amounts of this bacteria in their stool consistently present with less obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, inflammation (particularly of the GI sort), and colon cancer incidence. Your inner intestinal wall lining produces a protective mucous layer rich in a substance called mucin. Mucin is Akkermansia’s favorite food, and by feeding on it, this stimulates your body to rapidly replenish its protective mucous barrier. A higher turnover rate makes for a healthier intestinal barrier. As Akkermansia feeds on mucin, it in turn produces a product called Short Chain Fatty Acids (such as butyrate & propionate) which are some of our body’s most powerful anti-inflammatory molecules. Turns out this bacteria’s waste product is our cherished treasure! Akkermansia also stimulates production of the gut peptide hormone GLP-1 (made famous by Ozempic, Wegovy & Mounjaro). GLP-1 slows glucose absorption and sends satiation signals to our brain.

 

So why have we not seen this species in our probiotic supplements or yogurt? The challenge is Akkermansia is an anaerobic bacterium meaning it prefers an environment of little to no oxygen, and so cannot be cultured or grown outside a host digestive tract. Until now. The company Pendulum has invested $150 million in developing an oxygen free manufacturing process to grow Akkermansia, and then freeze dry it into a powder and put it in an acid-resistant capsule. This capsule enables the bacteria to survive the harsh stomach acid, and once in the intestine, it dissolves and the suspended bacteria is released and it colonizes. This has been confirmed in studies showing their product increases Akkermansia counts in host feces after supplementing. Pendulum has a published double-blind placebo-controlled study for their probiotic (this is the highest quality/gold standard for studies). After 3 months, those taking the probiotic had significant improvement in their blood sugar vs those on placebo (0.6 % HbA1c reduction; 32.5% reduction in glucose spike after meals). This rivals the results of the most prescribed and effective medications for diabetes – Metformin. In fact, it turns out Metformin has been shown to positively change the microbiome of the gut leading to an increase in Akkermansia. Some scientists theorize this is the primary mechanism by which Metformin improves glucose control. 

 

Besides Metformin or Pendulum’s probiotic some other proven ways to raise Akkermansia include pomegranates, cranberries, grape seeds (red or black grapes, red wine), black raspberries and green tea. Some supplements – berberine, inulin (prebiotic fiber) and butyrate (short chain fatty acid) also raise akkermansia levels. Additionally, red light will also increase Akkermansia in the microbiome. This can either be obtained through a red light therapy device or simply from sun exposure. Be aware that the commonly used cholesterol medications (statins- i.e., Lipitor) are shown to lower Akkermansia counts.

 

Pre-, pro-, and post-biotics

Prebiotics are fibers that beneficial bacteria (which are probiotics) use as food to thrive. They are fertilizer for a healthy gut and are found in many plant-based foods or can be taken as supplements. Postbiotics is a newer term which refers to products produced by probiotics which are beneficial to our health. The anti-inflammatory short chain fatty acids mentioned earlier are an example of a postbiotic. A recently discovered postbiotic specific to Akkermansia called Amuc_1100 found on its outer cell membrane seems to be the molecule that conveys many of its health benefits. This has led to the development of another Akkermansia product from a Belgium company called The Akkermansia Company. Unlike Pendulum’s live probiotic, this one is pasteurized (aka dead bacteria), but has a much higher Amuc_1100 content. My understanding is there is some tension between these 2 companies in that they both have applied and been approved for sole patent rights to Akkermansia in their countries (U.S. and Belgium). Be aware that any product other than these 2 that claims to contain Akkermansia is fraudulent. There have been numerous studies comparing the effects of live vs pasteurized Akkermansia – all of them small and on rodents – only one on humans. I have peered into these studies and have compiled the following comparison:

  • Both live and pasteurized demonstrate positive health effects pertaining to weight and metabolic syndrome.
  • The case for live probiotic (Pendulum Metabolic Daily Pro): better changes in stool microbiome, better energy homeostasis (calories burned per day), immune response in the liver, better insulin sensitivity, lower triglycerides.
  • The case for pasteurized (The Akkermansia Company Healthy Weight with Glucose Control): lower LDL cholesterol, lower inflammation, better intestinal integrity, better glucose tolerance, greater weight reduction (5 more lb. in 3 months)

 

I feel these are both excellent products that can benefit many, and for that reason stock and recommend both. Reach out to me to see if you may be one to benefit, and which of these 2 would be your best choice.

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