I know you were all missing your Tuesday post from me. 🙂 I was on my way home from Florida, where we saw my son’s autism doctor. So with autism on my mind, I thought I’d share a little article[i] I found today that ties together several topics I’ve covered in the last month or so.
The article covers a talk given by a scientist, Dr. Michael Conlon, at a recent summit on probiotics. He discussed about how polyphenols (remember those from my article on ways to boost Akkermansia?) improve health through boosting levels of good bacteria. Resveratrol, found in grape and berry skins, for example, increases levels of lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut according to a 2016 study. (I did start the cranberry extract and grape seed extract after writing that post. Over the weekend, completely coincidently, I also spotted a product made by Life Extension (one of my favorite organizations, as you know) called Berry Complete , which I ordered for myself this morning).
Remember too my article about “eating like a queen bee”? Well, studies show that propolis (another polyphenol), produced by honey bees, reduces bacterioides, alleviating colitis and intestinal inflammation. (I did some looking around and found this product that contains both royal jelly, as per that post of mine, and propolis. With cold and flu season coming up here in the northeastern USA, I plan on adding this too to my daily regime.)
Dr. Conlon also talked about new strains of probiotics that will hopefully be available soon, including Akkermansia muciniphila. Akkermansia, as you know from my posts, has many health benefits including protecting against atherosclerosis. And it turns out that low levels are not only associated with Alzheimer’s, as I wrote about a few weeks ago, but also autism. Says Dr. Conlon in his presentation, “Some of you may or may not know that kids with autism actually have significantly more gut problems, so we investigated and one of the initial findings was that there is a decrease in A.muciniphila.” He goes on to say that bacterial metabolites in the children’s urine indicate, leaky gut…which I covered just last week.
I went to PubMed and found Dr. Conlon’s paper[ii], from 2011, which had several interesting findings, two of which really jumped out at me. Firstly, the strain Bifidobacterium longum, which is found to be low in kids on the spectrum, has been shown to improve anxiety in animal studies by stimulating the vagus nerve. (Probiotics, like VSL#3, have this strain.) If there is any one symptom I have seen in children with autism (and, all too often, their typical siblings), it’s high levels of anxiety. Secondly, the aforementioned finding of low levels of Akkermansia in the autism population was new to me: “…our finding of a lower abundance of A. muciniphila in ASD children and their siblings may indicate a thinner GI mucus barrier in ASD children…These results could represent indirect evidence of impaired gut permeability in children with ASD.” As I wrote about last week, leaky gut = leaky brain.
[ii] Wang, Lv, Christophersen, CT, Sorich, MJ, Gerber, JP, Angley, MT, Conlon, MA. Low relative abundances of the mucolytic bacterium Akkermansia muciniphila and Bifidobacterium spp. In feces of children with autism. Applied and Environmental Microbiology. 2011;77(18):6718-6721.