I have discussed how and why hyaluronic acid, a repeating chain of two sugar molecules, is nearly absent from the modern diet, given our aversion to consuming organ meats, especially brain and skin, the two organs richest in hyaluronic acid content. Hyaluronic acid is the master hydrator of the body, able to retain huge amounts of water within its structure. Hyaluronic acid is a crucial component of the dermal layer of skin, the synovial lubricating fluid of joints, the vitreous of the eyes, the brain, and other organs. While many ladies apply hyaluronic acid topically that smooths skin and may introduce beneficial shifts in skin microbiome composition, it is washed off with your nightly skin routine. Oral ingestion is a more effective strategy for the health of all these hyaluronic acid-rich organs.

I’ve also discussed how and why prebiotic fibers, polysaccharides (what the Sonnenburgs call “microbiota-accessible carbohydrates, or MACs), and other compounds from diet are important for the health of your gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome. Obtaining inulin fiber, for instance, from onions, garlic, shallots, green unripe bananas, or a convenient commercial powder, causes a bloom in important beneficial species such as Faecalibacterium prausnitizii, an important producer of intestinal butyrate that heals the intestinal lining and generates many positive body-wide effects on blood sugar, blood pressure, sleep quality and dream content. You may have noticed that MACs and other factors that nourish microbes are all plant-sourced: legumes, root vegetables, asparagus, Brussel sprouts, jicama, fruit, etc. (This explains why people who are excessively low-carb on ketogenic, carnivorous, or other diets that lack MACs and related compounds develop dysbiosis and the health problems associated.) There is one exception, however, a prebiotic fiber or MAC sourced from animals: hyaluronic acid.

Oral ingestion of hyaluronic acid increases populations of beneficial microbes such as Bifidobacteria species and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, while also causing a shift towards more Bacteroidetes species and fewer Firmicutes species. A preponderance of Firmicutes over Bacteroidetes appears to favor obesity; hyaluronic acid therefore appears to help reverse this ratio.

Here’s a dilemma: While most people harbor a GI microbiome that is able to degrade hyaluronic acid into smaller fragments that enhance absorption and thereby yield benefit, some people lack the microbial species that accomplish this. While this remains a work in progress, it is likely that shifting GI microbiome composition towards greater numbers of Bacteroidetes species, e.g., Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron, accomplished by our general efforts to rebuild a healthy GI microbiome (e.g., fermented foods, restoration of lost keystone species such as L. reuteri and L. gasseri), may increase the ability to metabolize hyaluronic acid and thereby yield its body-wide benefits on skin, joints, and elsewhere. In future, Bacteroidetes species may be available in commercial probiotics, also.

Some bacterial species and strains that occupy the human GI tract also produce hyaluronic acid. In future, it may be possible to restore or increase the counts of these hyaluronic acid-producing microbes to add even further to GI, skin, joint, and brain health. Stay tuned. In the meantime, recognize that oral ingestion of hyaluronic acid, whether via organ consumption or a nutritional supplement (readily available and inexpensive) is another aspect of your effort to rebuild a healthy GI microbiome and to obtain youth-preserving effects on various organs, especially skin and joints. If you were to eat a 4-ounce serving of sheep or lamb brain, you would obtain around 7 mg of hyaluronic acid. In human clinical trials, the dose most commonly used is 120 mg per day, sometimes 240 mg per day in joint studies. While there is plenty of debate over the molecular weight of hyaluronic acid that is most effective such as when injected as filler into skin or lubricant into joints, this issue likely is not relevant to oral ingestion, as microbes are known to break down the hyaluronic acid molecule into fragments, regardless of starting length or molecular weight.