Can the microorganisms in our gut affect our bone health? The answer may surprise you.
A recent Chinese study seems to suggest that the organisms in our colon can have an effect on our bone density. In this study just published in PeerJ, a peer-reviewed, scholarly on-line journal, they followed 18 study participants to see if their gut microbiome showed a difference whether they were normal, osteopenic, or osteoporotic.
“Recently, the gut microbiota have attracted attention in connection with metabolic diseases. The human gastrointestinal tract is colonized by rich and dynamic communities of microbes. The microbes has been considered as a critical factor for metabolic disorders including obesity, diabetes, and osteoporosis (Ejtahed et al., 2016)”
This study did conclude that there were significant differences in these microbial populations of normal subjects vs. osteopenic and osteoporotic subjects. These differences may help researchers in the future to screen for patients who are at risk of developing osteoporosis and later help physicians and patients to manage their microbiome’s so they are more bone-friendly.
Frequent antibiotic use, sugary or high carbohydrate diets can have a negative effect on the gut microbiome’s diversity and function. It is also interesting to note that the make-up of the microbiome can change very quickly when the diet is modified.(1)
Prebiotics can be used to help develop a healthy gut microbiome. What is a prebiotic? “Prebiotics are non-digestible (by humans) fermentable food ingredients that promote both the growth of beneficial microorganisms in the intestine as well as health-benefiting changes in microbiome activity (ie: metabolites) Prebiotics encompass compounds found in a variety of foods such as chicory, garlic, leek, Jerusalem artichoke, dandelion greens, banana, onion, and bran that are readily available in grocery and health-food stores. In many cases, a significant amount of the food is needed to get enough prebiotic for activity, therefore prebiotics, such as inulin, have been developed into soft chew, capsule, tablet or shake forms and are manufactured by a variety of companies.” (2)
So I think it is fair to say that a healthy, pro-microbiome diet is another smart step to better bone health.
(1) Moschen AR, Wieser V, Tilg H. Dietary Factors: Major Regulators of the Gut’s Microbiota. Gut and Liver. 2012;6(4):411-416. doi:10.5009/gnl.2012.6.4.411. (Download Link)
(2) McCabe L, Britton RA, Parameswaran N. Prebiotic and Probiotic Regulation of Bone Health: Role of the Intestine and its Microbiome. Current osteoporosis reports. 2015;13(6):363-371. doi:10.1007/s11914-015-0292-x. (Download Link)