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How supplements with intestinal bacteria help with obesity
What was already evident in mice in 2007 has now been confirmed in humans: the gut bacterium Akkermansia can reduce cardiovascular risk factors and support weight loss. A Belgian research team showed how the bacteria in the form of supplements can improve the health of overweight people in the future.
Researchers at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) in Belgium demonstrated for the first time the health-promoting effects of the gut bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila on humans. Already a three-month intake of the bacteria significantly reduced several risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in the overweight participants. In addition, the bacteria reduced cholesterol levels, alleviated the course of prediabetes and supported weight loss. The study results were recently presented in the journal "Nature Medicine".
A healthy intestinal flora in a healthy body
The fact that the intestinal flora (intestinal microbiome) plays an essential role in human health is becoming increasingly clear from current research. A Belgian research team led by Professor Patrice Cani showed how this can be used for humans. According to the team, every second person is now considered overweight and therefore has an increased risk of heart disease. With the intestinal bacterium Akkermansia you can obviously counteract this development.
Akkermansia has been tested on mice for over ten years
As early as 2007, Professor Cani discovered the positive effects of the intestinal bacteria in mice. At that time, his team showed that Akkermansia is able to alleviate the development of obesity and type 2 diabetes in rodents. This discovery was refined in 2017. The researchers discovered in mice that the intake of previously heated and thus killed bacteria offers more extensive protection than the administration of living bacteria. The rodents were better protected from insulin resistance and high cholesterol levels in the blood (hypercholesterolemia) due to the pasteurized bacteria. In addition, Akkermansia ensured that less fat was stored in the body.
Course of the study
After extensive testing on mice, the intestinal bacteria have now been tested for the first time in a human clinical trial to ensure that the bacterium poses no risk. The researchers administered one of three agents to overweight or obese participants. One was a placebo, another was live Akkermansia bacteria, and a third was pasteurized. All participants suffered from increased insulin resistance (prediabetes type 2) and showed increased risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. During the study, the subjects' usual eating and exercise habits were retained.
Results could be transferred to humans
After three months it was confirmed what had previously been shown in the mice: the ingestion of the bacteria prevented a deterioration in the health of the participants. In addition, there was a decrease in inflammation markers in the liver, the cholesterol level dropped and the participants lost an average of 2.3 kilograms. In the placebo group, on the other hand, the values deteriorated to the extent that is normal for the weight.
Every second person could benefit
These results suggest that supplements containing Akkermansia bacteria are an effective way to combat obesity and the associated risk factors. If this is confirmed, such funds could improve the health of around every second person in Germany. The results of a large-scale study are now to be checked before the bacteria become available on the market in the form of nutritional supplements. (vb)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek
- Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain): A bacteria likely to reduce the cardiovascular risks of 1 in 2 people (accessed: 07/12/2019), uclouvain.be
- Cani, Patrice D. / Depommier, Clara / Everard, Amandine: Supplementation with Akkermansia muciniphila in overweight and obese human volunteers: a proof-of-concept exploratory study, Natuure Medicine, 2019, nature.com