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Herbsprout is a webblog and podcast dedicated to sharing the health benefits of herbs, food, innovations related to our gut microbiome. Herbsprout seeks to bridge the vast chasm dividing the mainstream medical community and alternative medicine.

gut microbe series 05: Akkermansia muciniphila


Akkermansia muciniphila is a species of bacteria naturally present in the human gut microbiota known for its ability to degrade mucin, a glycoprotein that lines the digestive tract. In addition to maintaining a healthy mucus layer in the gut, it thrives in the mucous layer that lines the intestines, where it feeds on mucin, a glycoprotein produced by the cells that line the digestive tract.
Its potential health benefits include promoting gut barrier function, reducing inflammation, and improving metabolic health.
Akkermansia muciniphila has specialized enzymes that allow it to break down and consume mucin as its primary energy source. By doing so, it helps maintain the integrity of the gut barrier and overall gut health.
While specific foods containing Akkermansia muciniphila are not widely studied, certain dietary factors can potentially promote its growth. These include:
1) Polyphenol-rich foods like berries, nuts, seeds, and tea. Certain vegetables also contain polyphenols, which can support the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila.
2) Prebiotic fiber: Foods rich in prebiotic fibers, such as onions, garlic, leeks, asparagus, bananas, and whole grains, can also encourage the growth of Akkermansia muciniphila.
3) Fermented foods: Fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi may indirectly support the growth of beneficial bacteria like Akkermansia muciniphila by fostering a healthy gut microbiome environment.
While these foods may help promote a healthy gut microbiome, it’s important to note that individual responses to dietary changes can vary, and further research is needed to fully understand the impact of specific foods on Akkermansia muciniphila levels.

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human gut bacteria varies by social environment

human gut bacteria varies by ...
Socioeconomic status and population density influence our gut microbiome, according to recent studies.
In one report published by Ars Technicaon March 14 2024, urban humans have lost their ability to digest plants, specifically cellulose which line the walls of plants (1). While humans are host to a mix of cellulose-eating bacteria, urban living has caused the number of these bacteria to shrink dramatically, possibly down to one species. Present-day hunter/gatherers and those living in a rural environment, both of whom eat very high fiber diets, still had about 20 percent prevalence of these cellulose-digesting species. By contrast, those in industrialized countries had a prevalence under 5 percent.
For example, according to a March 15 2024 Science report, researchers found numerous rumicococcus strains, Candidatus Ruminococcus primaciens, Ruminococcus hominiciens, and Ruminococcus ruminiciens, all of which help digest cellulose. These species are found prevalent in great apes and primates, and today’s rural populations, but not in industrialized urban populations (2).
On the flip side, researchers found a number of factors of socioeconomic status (SES). A March 11 2024 the Food and Microbiome Longitudinal Investigation (FAMiLI) study, published in Nature of 825 participants determined the relationship of a range of individual- and neighborhood-level SES indicators with the gut microbiome. Lower socioeconomic status (SES) is related to increased incidence and mortality due to chronic diseases, but this study suggests biological factors that influence SES (3).
Certain gut bacteria were found prevalent among low SES, others among high SES participants. For example , low SES individuals showed a higher abundance of Prevotella and a lower abundance of Bacteroides. 
These are broad generalizations, but the study found that Hispanic and Black participants were more likely in poor neighborhoods to have lower SES, including lower education, occupation, neighborhood income, and deprivation. United States-born participants had higher SES as compared to foreign-born participants, according to New Medical (4).

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Gut microbe series 04: e. coli

Gut microbe series 04: e. coli
Escherichia coli (E. coli) is a species of bacteria commonly found in the intestines of humans and other animals. While some strains of E. coli can cause illness, such as food poisoning, many strains are harmless and even beneficial.
In the gut, E. coli plays a role in maintaining a healthy microbial community and provides benefits such as producing vitamin K2 and preventing the colonization of harmful bacteria.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) can be beneficial in several ways:
Normal Gut Flora: E. coli is a natural inhabitant of the human gut microbiota, where it contributes to the balance of microbial communities and helps prevent colonization by harmful bacteria. It competes for resources and space, thus aiding in gut health.

Vitamin Synthesis: Some strains of E. coli are capable of synthesizing vitamin K2, which is essential for blood clotting and bone health. By producing this vitamin in the gut, E. coli contributes to the host’s overall well-being.

Immune System Stimulation: E. coli can stimulate the immune system, promoting the development and maintenance of a healthy immune response. This interaction between gut bacteria, including E. coli, and the immune system helps protect against pathogens and maintain gut homeostasis.

Overall, E. coli is beneficial when it resides in the gut in appropriate quantities and under normal conditions.
However, certain strains can cause illness if they proliferate excessively or if they contain virulence factors that enable them to cause infections. Certain strains of E. coli can cause infections if they enter the bloodstream or other parts of the body.
(written by Chris Kenji Beer with help from ChatGPT)

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