There’s a beneficial gut bacteria linked to everything from weight loss to better blood sugar control to lower levels of inflammation— the question is, do you have enough of it in your gut microbiome?
Want to know the best part? If you don’t have enough Akkermansia muciniphila, you can increase your levels naturally by eating certain foods that contain key polyphenols that Akkermansia feeds and thrives on.
Why do we want Akkermansia in our ecosystem of gut bacteria?
Researchers have uncovered a strong link between people who have higher levels of Akkermansia in their gut and metabolic health. Just like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium (two of the most infamous gut bugs found in healthy individuals), Akkermansia is another pillar bacteria strain (in a healthy gut it makes up 1 to 5% of the total bacteria) that’s associated with optimal health and less disease (1)(3).
The evidence doesn’t have the spotlight it deserves yet, but a mound of anecdotal and clinical experience from experts like Dr. Mark Hyman and Dr. William Li show that increasing your Akkermansia levels holds a lot of promise for supporting gut function (both short and long-term), enhancing metabolic health, and promoting optimal health.
My friend and business partner, Dr. Hyman, was the first to tell me about the powerful gut-healing properties of Akkermansia. When he got really sick about four years ago, his gut health took a turn for the worse, and building up his Akkermansia was pivotal for healing his leaky gut and getting his health back on track.
Another friend of mine, Dr. William Li, joined me on my podcast to talk about the phytochemicals in certain foods, how they modulate our gut microbiome, and the implications this has on health and disease, especially cancer. He talked about the evidence around cancer treatments and Akkermansia and shared an incredible story about a patient who had a much better response to immunotherapy specifically because they increased their Akkermansia levels. Amazing, right?
Why is Akkermansia so special?
Akkermansia is different from other beneficial bacteria species because it modulates the thickness of our intestinal mucosal layer, keeping our gut barrier strong. That’s why people who have significant levels of Akkermansia are less likely to have leaky gut and the diseases that come along with it (more on this below) (3)(4).
In today’s protocol, I’m going to give you three ways to boost your Akkermansia levels so you can get all of its amazing benefits. But first, let’s get a better understanding of why Akkermansia is so awesome and how it protects us against a bunch of chronic diseases.
How Akkermansia Works
Akkermansia feeds on mucin, a glycoprotein that regulates the thickness of the mucosal layer that lines our intestines (5).
As a byproduct of munching on mucin, Akkermansia produces short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that feed gut bacteria and intestinal cells (4). This increases the production of butyrate, a super powerful SCFA that supports gut health, modulates the immune system, and promotes an anti-inflammatory state (6).
Butyrate also strengthens tight junctions (the glue that holds our intestinal cells together), which helps keep unwanted materials from passing through and into circulation, a condition we call leaky gut (6).
Leaky Gut, The Center of Disease
Leaky gut can be caused by a number of factors. It can happen quickly or develop over time depending on the level, duration, and severity of exposure to a multitude of factors.
Eating a Western diet high in refined sugars and poor-quality fats, gluten, pesticides, and chemical toxins, combined with heavy metal exposure, chronic stress, nutrient deficiencies, infections, excessive alcohol intake, smoking, and frequent use of antibiotics, NSAIDs, and other medications is the perfect recipe for leaky gut (7).
What do all these factors have in common? They disrupt our gut microbiome (including wiping out our Akkermansia) and trigger the release of zonulin, a protein that regulates the permeability of our tight junctions. When zonulin is high, tight junctions loosen; and food and bacteria escape the gut and enter into circulation (8).
Having foreign substances floating around in the bloodstream activates the immune system, which can lead to chronic inflammation and autoimmune conditions from the immune system being in an overactive state (8).
Akkermansia To The Rescue
People who have high levels of Akkermansia are healthier and less likely to suffer from certain autoimmune conditions and chronic diseases. Akkermansia is directly correlated with metabolic health—the more you have, the less likely you are to suffer from diseases rooted in metabolic dysfunction (9).
Akkermansia is inversely related to body weight and BMI (10). In a human interventional study, obese adults with higher Akkermansia levels had healthier metabolic status, better fasting blood glucose, body fat distribution, and insulin sensitivity than those with lower Akkermansia levels after 6-weeks of calorie restriction (2). This means that Akkermansia can help you get closer to your health goals when combined with diet and lifestyle interventions.
Another study found that type 2 diabetics with lower levels of Akkermansia had a harder time keeping their HbA1c under control than diabetics who had higher levels of Akkermansia despite being on medication (11). Interestingly enough, Metformin, an antidiabetic drug, upregulates the production of the intestinal mucosa, promotes gut barrier function, and lowers inflammation in mice, similar to the role of Akkermansia (12). As mentioned in the past, I don’t personally take Metformin, but I know a lot of biohackers who do (more info).
Low levels of Akkermansia have also been observed in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease (13)(14)(15), which makes sense since Alzheimer’s shares a lot of the same characteristics as other diseases related to insulin resistance, inflammation, and gut dysbiosis (16). (If you want more information on this topic, take a listen to this interview I did with Dr. Ben Bickman.)
We are on the cusp of an explosion in Akkermansia research. Based on what we know so far, the function it serves in building up our intestinal mucosal layer and keeping our gut barrier strong can help prevent leaky gut and related chronic diseases.
If you want to be on the cutting edge of this groundbreaking microbe, there are ways you increase your levels naturally by incorporating certain foods into your diet and I’m going to show you how in my protocol today.
Even though the data around this superbug seems incredible, I do want to note that there are some limited observational studies that report a correlation between higher levels of Akkermansia and certain auto-immune conditions like multiple sclerosis (in mice) and eczema (in infants) (17)(18).
That might sound scary, but the data is early and observational (which means there is no established causal link between the two), so no need to fret! The research that’s out there on the benefits of increasing your Akkermansia levels far outweighs the cons. There are a lot of reasons why a mouse with multiple sclerosis would have higher levels of Akkermansia. Some experts think it could be due to Akkermansia eating too much of our mucosal layer, or trying to operate in a protective fashion. Again it’s limited data, but something to pay attention to as the research on Akkermansia continues to grow (17)(18).
Okay, now that we’ve talked about that, time for the protocol!
I. Eat these foods to boost your Akkermansia. There are plenty of foods you can eat that contain prebiotic fibers and polyphenols that feed and grow those good gut bugs. Akkermansia loves ellagic acid, catechins, and tannins (polyphenols present in a lot of berries, nuts, and green tea)(19)(20).
It’s important to note that dietary polyphenols are diverse, abundant, and come packaged with other phytochemicals. Therefore it’s difficult to pinpoint which ones are responsible for building up Akkermansia (4). However, animal and human studies show promise for the polyphenols in the below foods for increasing the proliferation of Akkermansia.
Here are some foods that contain these powerful phytonutrients. Incorporating these into your diet in reasonable amounts on a regular basis can help boost your Akkermansia abundance and all the benefits that go along with it (4)(19)(20)(21).
A quick note before you jump into this list: Many of the foods that support Akkermansia growth are fruits. Specifically, fruits that might have a big blood sugar impact. But as we mentioned in last week’s newsletter, we don’t need to have “fruit phobia.” You can still enjoy fruits as part of a well-rounded diet, all we need to do is be mindful of the impact that high glycemic foods can have on your blood sugar.
Additionally, there are simple things you can do to minimize your glucose response to these beneficial foods. Things like pairing fruits with fat. For example, having grapes with a piece of cheese or a spoonful of nut butter. Think high-quality charcuterie boards!
- Concord grapes
- Green tea
Note: As the research on Akkermansia continues to grow, I’m curious to see if things like freeze-dried juice powders could play a role in helping it grow in our gut. They have way less sugar than fruits but still retain many of the diverse beneficial polyphenols. I’ll often use a freeze-dried organic powdered pomegranate mix in my smoothies that has 1g of sugar per serving.
II. Dr. Hyman’s Gut Repair Shake. Here is the shake that Dr. Hyman drank daily to help increase his Akkermansia levels and support repairing his leaky gut. Below, I listed the baseline ingredients that contain a cocktail of polyphenols designed to support Akkermansia growth and proliferation. There are additional ingredients that Dr. Hyman added to his shake for even more benefits. I included them below in case you are interested in taking them for additional support, although they aren’t necessary and can get a little pricey.
- 1 tablespoon of acacia fiber .
- Anthony’s Organic Acacia Senegal Powder is a high-quality organic acacia fiber supplement that contains nothing but 100% acacia fiber.
- 1 tablespoon pomegranate concentrate
- Dr. Hyman uses Lakewood Organic Pomegranate Juice Concentrate. You can get it on Amazon or from your local health food store. I’ve noticed a lot of standard grocery stores carry it, too. Please note: the price listed on Amazon is for a pack of 12, you can get a single bottle from the store.
- 1 tablespoon cranberry concentrate
- Lakewood Organic Cranberry Juice Concentrate. Again, check your local grocery store, this link is more so you can see what the bottle looks like, and is for a pack of 6.
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
- Navitas Organics Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder. This is another item that’s commonly sold in natural food stores.
- 1 scoop collagen powder
- Dr. Hyman recommends Primal Kitchen’s Collagen Fuel Vanilla Coconut Collagen Peptide Drink Mix for his Gut Repair Shake, but any high-quality collagen peptide supplement will do.
- 1 scoop NuMedica ImmunoG PRP
- 1 stick ProbioMax 350 DF by Xymogen (this product requires a doctor to order it, but we wanted to include it because it was a part of Dr. Hyman’s protocol)
- 1 scoop GI Benefits by Da Vinci
- 1 scoop SBI Protect by Orthomolecular or MegaMucosa by Microbiome Labs
Instructions: Add ingredients to 8-10 ounces of water, shake or blend. If you add probiotics be sure to shake or blend them in for only 1-2 seconds. Drink this shake daily to get your Akkermansia levels up!
I. Pendulum Akkermansia muciniphila. After learning about the power of Akkermansia (from Dr. Hyman and Dr. William Li) I went on the hunt for a capsule version of this powerful superbug. I quickly discovered that no company had figured out a process to successfully grow Akkermansia muciniphila in the lab. Then a friend told me about a company that just launched called Pendulum, and how they cracked the code of growing Akkermansia muciniphila.
Because Akkermansia is an anaerobic organism, meaning it can only survive in an oxygen-free environment (like your gut), the team of scientists at Pendulum came up with a unique manufacturing process to harness the amazing benefits of Akkermansia.
Right now it’s too early for me to talk about the short-term benefits of taking Akkermansia. Like many of you, I’m often trying so many different things that it’s hard to tell exactly what’s working and what isn’t.
That being said, I’m so convinced of the long-term benefits associated with having higher levels of Akkermansia that I decided to take the plunge!
It’s a pricey investment at $74 for a monthly subscription, but that’s why we included it in our Splurge section. As always, there’s plenty of low-cost tools to increase your Akkermansia listed above.
Speaking of price, Pendulum was kind enough to include a discount for our Try This community. If you are interested you can use the code TRYTHIS at checkout to get 20% off your first order.
Transparency: Pendulum did not pay to be included in this newsletter, but they did give me a partner code and two free bottles of product. But just to be clear, I would have written about Akkermansia muciniphila regardless.
- Pendulum Akkermansia For Gut Health (use code “TRYTHIS” for 20% off your first order): One-of-a-kind Akkermansia supplement.
“All Diseases Begin and End in the Gut”
Hippocrates said it first more than 2,000 years ago, he didn’t know at the time, but our microbiome controls the fate of our gut health, and our modern-day diet, environmental toxins, and lifestyle make it really tough to keep it balanced.
Certain gut bacteria species are beneficial for our overall metabolic health and others are detrimental. Observational studies show that most healthy individuals contain cornerstone beneficial bacteria strains, and Akkermansia happens to be one of them.
Akkermansia helps regulate the thickness of our intestinal mucosa layer and has been shown to strengthen the therapeutic outcomes of chronic disease caused by a leaky gut, inflammation, insulin resistance, and so much more. We need this gut bug on our team to keep us healthy and metabolically fit.
Try my protocol to increase the levels of Akkermansia muciniphila in your gut, support digestion, and lower your overall risk and improve clinical outcomes.
Here’s to your gut health,