Probiotics and tiny fatty acids boost IGF-1 levels
Beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract convert food fibres into tiny fatty acid chains - short-chain fatty acids as they're called officially. There's a diagram of one here. These beneficial bacteria - and the short-chain fatty acids they produce - play a crucial role in the synthesis of the anabolic hormone IGF-1 in the body. Researchers at the University of Harvard write about this in the prestigious scientific journal PNAS. The role of IGF-1 is so crucial that we wonder whether these findings are also of interest to athletes looking to build more muscle. Or to people looking to build bone strength.
The researchers did experiments with ordinary mice [Col] and mice that had grown up in sterile conditions, and therefore had no bacteria in their gut [GF].
The mice without bacteria and other micro-organisms in their gut had less IGF-1 in their blood than the mice with normal gut flora. The bones of the germ-free mice were also smaller.
When the researchers gave the germ-free mice bacteria found in the normal mice, the concentration of IGF-1 in their blood rose.
When the researchers gave the normal mice antibiotics, their IGF-1 levels decreased.
Finally, the researchers gave short-chain fatty acids [SCFA] to the mice whose gut flora had been decimated by antibiotics. The researchers put the fatty acids - 67.5 mM acetate, 40 mM butyrate, 25.9 mM propionate - in water and got the mice to drink the solution. The figure below on the left shows that supplementation led to a rise in the IGF-1 level.
So might interventions to boost the concentration of short-chain fatty acids in the bloodstream also lead to a rise in IGF-1 in healthy individuals?
And might this increase then stimulate anabolic processes in the muscles and skeleton?
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Nov 22;113(47):E7554-E7563.
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