As a member of the Chuckling Goat tribe, you’ve probably already heard the good news about popular bacteria like Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus which can improve the general health of your gut microbiome,1 by boosting your metabolism, immunity and mental wellbeing.2
So now let’s drill down a level. Come on a journey with us now, down to the place where the less familiar gut bugs hang out. Meet Akkermansia!
What is Akkermansia?
When we talk about Akkermansia, we’re usually referring to Akkermansia muciniphila. The name breaks down into two parts: mucin + phila, which translates to “mucin lover.” (Mucin is a component of mucus.) May not sound nice to us, but Akkermansia actually eats mucus; it’s number one job is to regulate the thickness of the mucous layer that protects the gut lining, making sure it’s neither too thin nor too thick.3
What can Akkermansia do for you?
If you’re interested in losing weight, this is the gut bug for you! It’s been dubbed “the lean bug,” based on the fact that people who tend to stay lean regardless of what they eat, tend to have higher levels of Akkermansia compared to those who put weight on easily.4
Studies have found that increases in the abundance of Akkermansia help lower the chances of developing obesity, insulin resistance, and intestinal inflammation.
4 more cool facts about Akkermansia:
- A little goes a long way. Akkermansia plays a key role in human health, even though “normal” levels of this microbe can be as low as 0.05% of the total gut microbiota and are rarely over 4%.
- The presence of Akkermansia affects glucose and lipid metabolism positively, i.e. those with good levels of this microbe tend to control their blood sugar more effectively and they also tend to have healthier levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. These two situations make people with Akkermansia within the above ranges less likely to develop adult-onset diabetes, also known as type 2 diabetes.5
- Akkermansia also plays a pivotal role in regulating intestinal immunity.6 Taking into account that up to 75% of our immune system resides in the gut, knowing which foods and behaviours may increase the abundance of Akkermansia in the gut suddenly becomes a lot more interesting than you may have anticipated!
- Supplementing Akkermansia as a probiotic has different effects on the body to feeding your own native Akkermansia, as found in recent clinical studies. This has puzzled scientists, who would love to find the “magic bullet” solution for obesity. Turns out you can’t just “eat” Akkermansia – you have to feed the ones you already have.7
So how do I increase my Akkermansia?
Scientists are still learning about details about how Akkermansia behaves and what it enjoys eating (apart from that delicious mucin, of course!)
Here are some ways to boost your Akkermansia levels:
- Inulin / FOS. Inulin is a medium-chain fructo-oligosaccharide from either chicory or Jerusalem artichokes.8 In plain English, this means it’s a relatively complex natural sugar that has a couple of peculiarities. The most important one is that it has no effect on insulin, so that makes it a peculiar sugar. It’s available as a slightly sweet white powder and clinical research has shown that adding as little as 10 grams of inulin to your diet promotes a better response to insulin in as short a time as 4 weeks. That’s great news for those worried about diabetes (type 2) or pre-diabetes, a prequel to the full blown condition that many of us can experience for years, while our pancreas continues to deteriorate.9 Knowing that inulin feeds Akkermansia10 is an added bonus we should all be very happy about! On top of that, a recent study on diabetic people who lived with hypertension found that 10 grams of inulin daily resulted in increased Akkermansia levels as well as in a marked decrease in their blood pressure readings.11 You will find inulin contained in our Complete Prebiotic.
- Berries and pomegranates. Research shows that Akkermansia loves the polyphenols in berries and pomegranate seeds.12, 13 Chuck a generous handful of these Akkermansia foods in your gut health smoothie daily.
- Intermittent fasting. There is some evidence that intermittent fasting helps increase Akkermansia levels.14, 15 Everyone is different and some of us thrive through fasting, while others feel miserable. If you decide to engage in any fasting regime, please remember that it’s not a competition! Do what feels right for you and do not push yourself to achieve unrealistic goals based on what friends, family or social media gurus may be doing. Keep it real and have a smoothie if you’re starving.
Curious about your own Akkermansia levels? Consider taking a microbiome test, which will show you exactly what your Akkermansia levels are.
If you have any questions about Akkermansia – or any other aspect of gut health – do feel free to contact our team of Nutritional Therapists on live chat, 8 am to 8 pm weekdays.
Have a gut-healthy weekend!
Dr Miguel and the Goats