Bone appétit! Good bacteria to have healthy bones
Does bone health depend only on a handful of bacteria in the gut microbiota? So suggests a large-scale study on over 2,000 Americans published in Frontiers in Endocrinology.
About this article
Osteomicrobiology is a new research field aiming at exploring the mechanisms linking the gut microbiota and the skeleton, and looking into many hypotheses about the mechanisms involved. For example, the gut flora may stimulate certain white blood cells, thus inducing inflammation, which in turn leads to bone loss. Numerous other mechanisms have been put forward, some involving (sidenote: Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) Short chain fatty acids (SCFA) are a source of energy (fuel) for an individual’s cells. They interact with the immune system and are involved in communication between the intestine and the brain. Silva YP, Bernardi A, Frozza RL. The Role of Short-Chain Fatty Acids From Gut Microbiota in Gut-Brain Communication. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020;11:25. ) produced by bacteria via fermentation of fibers in the colon, or dietary compounds such as vitamins K or D. However, large-scale studies are still lacking. Or rather, were lacking, since a study on more than 2,000 Americans has provided new evidence.
The gut microbiota
Bone health: two bacteria under the spotlight
The study included participants from two markedly different studies: 836 elderly men (average age 84.2) on the one hand, and 1,227 men and women in their fifties (average age 55.2), on the other. Despite this heterogeneity of profiles in terms of age and sex, two bacteria, Akkermansia and Clostridiales DTU089, seem to be systematically associated with poorer bone health, and therefore a higher risk of (sidenote: Osteoporosis A disease characterized by a reduction in bone mass and a breakdown in the structure of bone tissue. It makes bones more fragile and thus considerably increases the risk of fractures. Source: Inserm ) and fracture at the slightest trauma. These bacteria are more abundant in those with low levels of physical activity and very limited protein intake – two behaviors not recommended for maintaining bone health.
Conversely, gut flora rich in Lachnospiraceae and Faecalibacterium were associated with stronger shins. It thus seems that certain bacteria influence how our bones remodel themselves as the years go by. Although this hypothesis has yet to be confirmed.
Sun, exercise, and a balanced diet
This finding is merely preliminary. Further studies are required, in particular to better understand the mechanisms by which certain bacteria can influence the integrity of our skeleton. This holds out the major hope of one day being able to modulate our gut microbiota to better protect bone health.
In the meantime, time spent outdoors (the sun pushes the body to produce vitamin D, which in turn facilitates calcium absorption), regular exercise, and a balanced diet will all help preserve bone health as you get older.