The one gut bacterium you have to boost (and here’s how)

Happy gut, happy life!

A disordered gut is being linked to more and more health conditions.

Ranging from autoimmune conditions, brain and psychiatric disorders to hypogonadism, hypothyroidism, stress hypersensitivity, etc.

If you’re experiencing some kind of negative health symptom, you might want to look to the gut as a major contributor.

The intestinal microbiota comprises of tens of trillions of microorganisms and more than 1000 different bacteria species have been identified. The species classification of gut community members is enormous because the distribution and composition of gut microbiota are varied at different intestine anatomical sites and are prone to be influenced by external and internal factors, including lifestyle, diet, mood, body condition, etc. This is one reason why its dangerous to take pro-biotics, because the probiotics will increase that bacterial strain everywhere in the gut, and not only in the specific area where it’s needed.

Enter Akkermansia muciniphila

Akkermansia muciniphila is one of the most abundant single species in the human intestinal microbiota (0.5–5% of the total bacteria) and has been isolated and characterized as a mucin-utilizing specialist in 2004 by Muriel Derrien in her Ph.D. research at Wageningen University.

This discovery was initiated by the notion that the human body produces its own “prebiotics” or microbial substrates, namely mucus, an abundant glycoprotein that is specifically produced and degraded in the colon.

A. muciniphila has been classified as the sole gram-negative emblematic Verrucomicrobia. Since it’s a gram-negative bacteria, it contains endotoxin. However, A. muciniphila actually protects against endotoxemia and lowers inflammation. More on its benefits in just a bit.

A. muciniphila is one of the main mucus degrading bacteria in the gut as it uses it as food. Paradoxically, instead of degrading the mucus too much and causing leaky gut, it enhances gut mucus production and protects against leaky gut.

A. muciniphila decomposes the mucus into acetic and propionic acid and releases sulfate via mucin fermentation. It can also detoxify hydrogen sulfide (R).

Pasteurization of this species doesn’t remove its benefits, so it’s speculated that it’s one of its numerous highly abundant protein on its outer membrane, such as Amuc_1100, which has the benefits. There is even talk that Amuc_1100 is a strong candidate for future drug development (R). But why get a very expensive drug (with potential side effects) if you can boost this species with cheap readily available foods and supplements.

A. muciniphila is high in young and healthy individuals and decreases with age or disease. Restoring high levels can actually improve health and youthfulness.

Benefits of Akkermansia muciniphila

A. muciniphila has many benefits and you’ll soon learn why you want high levels of this bugger.

In humans, the abundance of A. muciniphila is decreased in several pathological situations such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, inflammatory bowel diseases (both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), hypertension, liver diseases (e.g. NAFLD, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis), appendicitis, inflammation in adipose tissue fat (which is inversely correlated with insulin resistance), autism, cardiometabolic diseases, low-grade inflammation, etc (R, R, R, R, R, R).

It’s beneficial for the liver

Alcohol is known to lower Akkermansia and lead to weight gain and liver damage (e.g. alcoholic steatohepatitis).

Oral supplementation of A. muciniphila can restore A. muciniphila depletion caused by ethanol exposure in mice, protecting the liver from alcoholic injury, neutrophil infiltration, and steatosis (R).

It produces anti-bacterial peptides

The mucus barrier produced by goblet cells is reinforced by antimicrobial peptides (for example, α-defensins, lysozyme C, phospholipases and C-type lectins, namely regenerating islet-derived 3-gamma, Reg3g) produced by Paneth cells, which is associated with innate immunity.

These peptides protect the gut against the overgrowth of pathogenic gut bacteria.

A high fat diet, similar to the Western diet, decreases intestinal Reg3g expression, whereas oral supplementation with A. muciniphila counteracts this effect. Reg3g causes bacterial remodeling in non-obese diabetic mice, and reduced Reg3g is associated with leaky gut, elevated circulating endotoxins and chronic inflammation (R).

It restores leaky gut

A. muciniphila is inversely correlated with gut permeability disruption and low-grade inflammation (R).

A. muciniphila improves intestinal barrier function by improving occludin and Tjp-1 expressions and suppressing endotoxin production followed by increasing the variety and volume of gut microbes (R). Due to cross-feeding, akkermansia is able to lower other pathological endotoxin producing gut bacteria, and lower overall endotoxin production.

Cross feeding means that one bacteria produces a byproduct and another bacteria uses it as fuel. So for example, Akkermansia produces acetate, which is used by Faecalibacterium prausnitzii as fuel, thus akkermansia increases F. prausnitzii levels.

But back to Akkermansia and leaky gut. Oral A. muciniphila administration as a prebiotic treatment for diet-induced obesity mice not only increased Muc2 protein production to restore mucus layer thickness but also prevented the intestinal barrier from injury via decreasing high fat-induced endotoxemia (R).

Simply put, a high fat, high PUFA, highly refined diet, lowers A. muciniphila and creates leaky gut and increases endotoxins production, but by restored A. muciniphila levels can reverse these changes (R).

It reduces endotoxins

Endotoxins, produced by gram negative bacteria, binds to the Toll-like receptor proteins, which causes an immune reaction. Activation of the TLR4 proteins by endotoxins causes inflammation.

Interestingly, low-level stimulation of TLR2 by the endotoxins from A. muciniphila may keep the mucosa-associated immune system alerted at an appropriate level and does not cause an overreaction of the immune system and chronic inflammation (R, R).

Akkermansia has been repeatedly shown to lower circulating endotoxins, reduce toll-like receptor proteins, lower inflammation and inhibit the recruitment and activation of inflammatory M1 macrophages (R, R).

It produces short chain fatty acids

Akkermansia can produce short chain fatty acids, such as acetate and propionate and to a less extent butyrate. Propionate and butyrate increase fasting-induced adipocyte factor (Fiaf; which lower the amount of fat stored) production and decreased Gpr43, histone deacetylase (HDAC), and PPARγ expression.

However, via cross feeding, Akkermansia boosts other butyrate producing bacteria.

It increases other beneficial gut bacteria

Cross feeding is when the byproducts of one bacterium supports the growth of another. A. muciniphila and F. prausnitzii co-occurr in the mucus and has a syntrophic relationship with each other and both species are reduced in inflammatory bowel disease (R).

Akkermansia muciniphila also promotes the growth of a butyrogenic gut commensal named Anaerostipes caccae, which can also convert acetate and lactate into butyrate (R). 

Here are 14 ways to maximize Akkermansia muciniphila

1) Increase gut mucus (R). Since A. muciniphila is a mucus degrading bacteria, prodiving more of its food can boost its growth. Palmitic acid and dopamine are able to increase mucus production, which should support A. muciniphila production.

2) Fiber free diet. In the absence of fiber, the abundance of Amuciniphila and Bcaccae increased rapidly with a corresponding decrease of the fiber-degrading species (R). Another benefit to my zero starch, zero fiber dietary experiment.

3) Avoid excess alcohol consumption. Alcohol powerfully lowers A. muciniphila (R).

4) Increase Bifidobacterium, specifically Bifidobacterium animalis.  B. animalis probiotic increased A. muciniphila abundance in the fecal content of the high-fat-fed mice by approximately 100 fold (R).

5) Vancomycin anti-biotics. A. muciniphila is sensitive to penicillin and tetracycline derivatives but resistant to vancomycin (R).

6) Fructooligosaccharides from Indian mulberry (R).

7) Dietary polyphenols, such as from grapes, cranberries, pomegranates and apples (R, R, R, R).

8) Rhubarb, specifically the anthraquinone in it

9) Dark sweet cherry powder (R)

10) Block the cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) with CBD. CB1 blockade dramatically increased relative abundance of Akkermansia muciniphila (R).

11) Bofutsushosan (R)

12) Capsaicin (R)

13) Metformin (R)

14) Agave salmiana (R)


Boosting Akkermansia muciniphila can be very beneficial for your health. There is a section in the Alpha Energy Nutrition Course where I specifically provide a stack on how to increase Akkermansia muciniphila.

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6 Replies to “The one gut bacterium you have to boost (and here’s how)”

  1. Would LC-Plasma from nootropicsdepot help build A muciniphila?

    1. Maybe, maybe not. Single strain pro-biotics don’t very often provide the benefits we hope for. I prefer food over pro-biotics, but if you want to try pro-biotics, then I’d go for a wider variety bidifo and lactobacilli together with S. Boulardi and soil-based pro-biotics. Then you also have to make sure that you get reputable brands as well. So it’s a lot but it’s more likely to work when it’s all used together.

  2. Hi Hans,
    Would you recommend plain greek yoghurt or while milk kefir for the gut ?
    Thanks on advance.

    1. Hey man,
      Neither one particularly, but both is fine. Strained yogurt is the best option for yogurt.

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