Bifidobacteria and Fiber Protect Against Leaky Gut
A thick layer of mucus protects the cells lining the colon. This mucus layer is essential for keeping bacteria and antigens away from the delicate cells below.
If this mucus layer becomes compromised, you get leaky gut; bacteria and antigens (often from food) get into the cells and cause all sorts of problems, such as metabolic syndrome (diabetes) and obesity.
So, keeping the mucus layer healthy and intact is essential to stop leaky gut.
Getting lots of fiber in your diet is vital to maintain this protective layer. If the good bacteria in your microbiome don't get enough fiber to eat, they start munching on this protective mucus layer instead.
The first study looked at the impact of a high-fat diet on metabolic syndrome.
The researchers found that the high-fat diet destroyed the gut microbiome and protective mucus layer and caused metabolic syndrome. However, adding inulin into the high-fat diet restored the gut microbiome and mucus layer and protected the mice from metabolic syndrome.
The second study looked at the impact of a Western-style diet (similar to the high-fat diet in study one) on the gut microbiome. Much like the high-fat diet study, the scientists found that the Western diet hurt the gut microbiome and caused the protective mucus layer to shrink. In turn, bacteria got through the layer and into the delicate cells beneath.
The researchers verified that the microbiome was the cause by transplanting a healthy microbiome from mice on a normal diet. The microbiome transplant restored the defect.
Next, the scientists gave the Western diet mice a Bifidobacteria longum probiotic. The probiotic restored the thickness of the mucus layer.
The researchers also tried giving the mice prebiotic inulin, and found that it stopped the bacteria from getting through the mucus layer to the cells below.
Although both of these studies involved mice, similar results have been seen in humans (at least for the development of metabolic disease).
These studies therefore show that prebiotic and probiotic combinations are effective in restoring the microbiome and protecting against leaky gut.
1. Zou, J., Chassaing, B., Singh, V., Pellizzon, M., Ricci, M., Fythe, M. D., ... & Gewirtz, A. T. (2017). Fiber-mediated nourishment of gut microbiota protects against diet-induced obesity by restoring IL-22-mediated colonic health. Cell host & microbe.
2. Hansson, G. C., & Bäckhed, F. (2018). Bifidobacteria or Fiber Protects against Diet-Induced Microbiota-Mediated Colonic Mucus Deterioration. Cell Host & Microbe, 23, 1-14.