Our science

myota was founded with the mission of developing science-backed, fibre-based microbiome interventions that leverage the body's natural healing mechanisms towards promoting health and well-being.

Microbial fermentation of dietary fibre

Our gut is home to trillions of beneficial bacteria, often referred to as the gut microbiome. We keep our gut microbes healthy when we consume dietary fibre as part of our everyday diet. One of the most important functions of the gut microbiome is to ferment these dietary fibres and produce anti-inflammatory molecules called Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs).
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologySwiss Federal Institute of Technology ZurichUniversity of CambridgeImperial College London
SCFAs are small metabolites that are exclusively of microbial origin and yet which are fundamental to human health.

What is dietary fibre?

Dietary fibre is a type of carbohydrate that cannot be broken down by the human body. Instead, fibre travels to the large intestine undigested where is it partially or completely broken down by our gut bacteria. In the body, fibre is best known for its role in promoting fullness after a meal, and preventing common gut symptoms like constipation and diarrhoea. However, the scientific and medical communities are constantly discovering new ways by which dietary fibre can support the activity and function of our gut bacteria. Many of these benefits are centred around the healthy production of SCFAs. To realise these benefits, adults are recommended to consume at least 30g of fibre each day. However, the latest figures show that many of us fail to consume half of that.

What are SCFAs?

Short Chain Fatty Acids (SCFAs) are very small molecules which are produced as an end-product when our gut bacteria ferments fibre. The main SCFAs include acetate, propionate, and butyrate. Our ability to produce and release SCFAs depends on the composition and diversity of our gut microbiome. Like a fingerprint, every individual has a unique microbiome, each with different fermentation capabilities. What this means is that if we were to give everyone the same type of fibre, some people will produce very little SCFAs. Understanding how to optimise the production of SCFAs for each individual will be a powerful tool to restore and maintain a healthy gut.    

How SCFAs impact our health

SCFAs produced in the gut (including acetate, propionate, and butyrate) are shown to have a number of beneficial effects throughout the human body. It is well known that microbial butyrate is the primary energy source for colon cells, and helps to maintain the integrity of the intestinal epithelium (gut lining). A healthy gut lining increases your ability to absorb nutrients, prevent potentially harmful substances from entering the bloodstream, and reduce the risk of colon cancer. SCFAs also exert their beneficial effects by interacting with specific receptors located on the intestinal epithelium. These receptors facilitate rapid communication between the gut and other systems in the body, including the central nervous system. Perhaps the most interesting action of SCFAs is their ability to alter gene expression (acting as histone deacetylase inhibitors) in human cells. This ability has linked microbial SCFAs with a growing list of clinical indications, including regulating inflammation and human metabolism.

Where our fibres come from

We don't produce our fibres, nature does. Dietary fibres are derived from plants, and, in their purest form, contain no additives. We spent a great deal of time finding the best sources of fibre to include into our mixes. Our fibres are extracted from a variety of fruits, grains, and vegetables, and have been tested individually for their ability to produce SCFAs in the microbiomes of different people.
Recent studies by the Myota team and others have confirmed that different individuals produce significantly different quantities of SCFAs from the same individual fiber. This is one of the many ways in which we are all unique. An understanding of this diversity is at the core of our fiber mixes.

Documented health impacts of fiber and SCFAs

Regulating inflammation

One of the most important benefits that SCFAs may provide to human health is to regulate chronic levels of inflammation. The overall anti-inflammatory effects of the SCFA butyrate is achieved through several mechanisms, with the joint goal of down-regulating the expression and production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. Individuals with Inflammatory Bowel Disease often have lower levels of butyrate, and fewer butyrate-producing bacteria residing in their guts. In fact, acute administration of butyrate to patients suffering from Ulcerative Colitis show clinically significant reductions in endoscopic scores of inflammation. There is now growing interest in the pharmaceutical industry to develop microbial-based therapeutics that boost butyrate production in the gut through clinical-grade probiotics. However, one promising alternative is to leverage an individual’s existing microbiome by feeding it with a specific fibre mix to enhance SCFA production. This is the approach taken by Myota.  

Maintaining healthy metabolism

The microbial fermentation of SCFAs has shown beneficial effects on host metabolism and energy homeostasis. For example, the increased production of butyrate has been causally linked to improved glucose control via the production of glucose locally in the gut (a process called gluconeogenesis). Regular consumption of fermentable fibre may be an important therapeutic tool to prevent and reverse Type 2 diabetes.

Promoting mental well-being

Microbial SCFA production has been linked to improved mental well-being, including how we experience anxiety, stress, and depression, as well our rate of cognitive decline as we age. Importantly, the connection between the gut and the brain is a two-way street. So when we are feeling anxious or stressed, this often leads to gut-related symptoms too, including abdominal pain, diarrhoea, bloating, and constipation. SCFAs interact with the brain via several complex and overlapping pathways. Within the gut, SCFAs are thought to communicate with the brain via the vagus nerve (a long neuronal projection that connects peripheral organs to the central nervous system). Since SCFAs can enter the bloodstream, they have also been shown, in some cases, to cross the blood-brain barrier. Once in the brain, SCFAs might play a role as a gene expression regulator and immune modulator. Other studies have shown that butyrate can support and maintain the integrity of the blood-brain barrier.
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