Bone health is vitally important and we need our bones to, quite literally, carry us through the ups and downs of life. Made up mostly of soft collagen, protein, and calcium for strength and hardness, they keep us supported and protect muscles and vital organs.
Studies have long proven that the key to healthy bones and improving osteoporosis lies in the health of our gut micro-biome.
We know that eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C stimulates the production of bone-making cells and protects bone cells from damage and consuming high protein and high-calcium foods keeps our bones strong and healthy. We also know that exercise like walking, lifting weights and fitness classes also boost bone health.
Now a new study from the Marcus Institute for Aging Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center published in Frontiers in Endocrinology has identified specific bacteria in the gut microbiome linked to skeletal health.
The study looked at the association between the gut microbiota and bone density, microarchitecture and strength.
What is a gut micro-biome and why is it important?
The gut micro-biome is the habitat where millions of microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses live. Also known as microbiota, these tiny organisms are useful to the body and there has been much focus on the link between the microbiome and health problems such as obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and even depression.
For instance, a 2019 review noted that changes in the micro-biome could contribute to bone loss and that supplementing your diet with pre and probiotics could prevent or even reverse bone loss.
The review cited a gut microbiome called Faecalibacterium prausnitzii which has been linked to helping with bone formation and produces butyric acid which can assist with regulating bone metabolism.
Furthermore, a 2022 review states that gut microbiota could be targeted for treating osteoporosis and preventing bone fractures.
The Marcus Institute research has now identified specific bacteria that are linked to skeletal health.
So which bacteria are linked to skeletal health?
The current study saw scientists conducting imaging of the limbs of male and female participants and found the bacteria Akkermansia and Clostridiales bacterium (DTU089) were linked to poor skeletal health.
Previous research has shown that DTU089 bacteria are higher in sedentary people who consume less protein.
Professor of medicine at the Marcus Institute for Aging Research at Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and principal investigator of this study, Dr Douglas Kiel told Medical News Today, “We do not precisely know why these bacteria would be connected to skeletal health, but we do know that Akkermansia abundance in the intestine is linked to obesity and that obesity may be related to compromises in skeletal integrity.”
He continued, “The same reasoning applies to the Clostridiales bacterium called DTU089 that is associated with lower physical activity. We know that low physical activity is related to bones that are less dense and strong. Also, the bacteria in the intestine can produce other factors that may adversely affect the bone, namely factors that increase general low-level inflammation, which can have deleterious effects on bone cells.”
Could probiotics and prebiotics be the answer?
The researchers believe their findings may eventually find a solution to preserving bone health that goes beyond the usual treatments prescribed for osteoporosis. They have begun investigating the efficacy of probiotics and prebiotics in boosting bone metabolism.
Kiel adds, “At this current stage of our research, we cannot specifically recommend anything that a physician could do to preserve bone through the microbiome, but we are now starting a study to test if probiotics combined with prebiotics can modify bone metabolism in a favorable way.
“If our study supports a prevention approach by using synbiotics – probiotics combined with prebiotics — physicians may be able to recommend synbiotics as a dietary approach to the preservation of bone health.”
Until then we can prevent bone deterioration and preserve our health for the long run the good old fashioned way – by eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly.
IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.