A link between bone health and microbiota has recently been established in animal models but changes at microbiota levels have also been observed in people who suffer from osteoporosis. As osteoporosis is linked to the intestinal microbiota in humans, the scientists think that probiotics can prevent and even reverse osteoporosis.
Summing up approximately 100,000 billion microorganisms, the intestinal microbiota is composed of between 500 and 1,000 different bacterial species, the four main ones being Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria.
If this intestinal flora acquired from birth remains relatively stable over time, its balance can nevertheless be disturbed by various factors, including age, stress, diseases, and so on, which can cause dysbiosis, a dysfunction involved in a number of diseases such as colorectal cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and many others.
Osteoporosis is linked to the intestinal microbiota
Recently established in lab animals, a link between intestinal flora and bone growth and osteoporosis, as well, has been confirmed by a study carried out on germ-free mice.
The absence of microbiota in these mice resulted in growth defects and lower weight and height. It has also been noticed that supplementing these mice’s diets with probiotics from the Lactobacilli family allowed the lab mice to return to the normal development patterns.
Besides, the researchers established a connection between osteoporosis and poor intestinal microbiota.
Probiotics and the osteoporosis
During another experiment, the scientists demonstrated that probiotics reverse bone loss in mice females without ovaries. Researchers concluded that probiotics can inhibit, prevent, and reverse bone loss caused by hormonal deficiency, such as menopause.
A Chinese study carried out on 6 healthy patients, 6 patients with osteoporosis, and 6 patients with osteopenia (precursor to osteoporosis), revealed different microbiotas in each patient group, notably a significantly higher Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio in case of osteoporosis.
The consumption of fermented dairy products (rich in probiotics) would, therefore, reduce age-related bone loss. According to a recent study, yogurt consumption reduces the risk of osteoporosis by 40% in women and 50% in men.