Could Your Gut Bacteria Signal Diabetes?

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: Diabetes, Digestive Health
Last Reviewed 02/20/2014

Could Your Gut Bacteria Signal Diabetes?

We know that immunity begins in the gut. Now, new data shows that your gut bacteria can reveal whether or not you have type 2 diabetes—perhaps even before other signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes emerge. 

To reach this conclusion, researchers at the University of Copenhagen and the Beijing Genomics Institute analyzed approximately 60,000 bacterial markers in people with signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes and without signs and symptoms of type 2 diabetes. 

Results showed that people with type 2 diabetes have different gut bacteria than those without diabetes, but they don’t know if those bacteria cause the disease or just reflect that the disease is present. In order to help determine that, they’re going transplant gut bacteria from people with type 2 diabetes into healthy mice to examine if the mice then develop diabetes. 

The connection between gut flora and diabetes isn’t surprising, since we know that the microbial milieu in individuals with asthma, inflammatory and irritable bowel disease, and obesity is markedly different from that of healthy people. Differences are also seen in psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, skin conditions and mood disorders.

Nurture Your Gut Bacteria

  • First, avoid antibiotics whenever possible. These drugs can be lifesaving, but too often they are prescribed and taken for infections they’re useless against. Antibiotic-related diarrhea and vaginal infections aren’t caused by drugs. They’re caused by opportunistic bacteria that gain a foothold when antibiotics kill off beneficial flora.

  • Second, eat plenty of prebiotics, indigestible carbohydrates that good gut bacteria thrive on. Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and bananas, onions, artichokes, whole grains and garlic, in particular, stimulate the growth of gut bacteria. Also consume fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled vegetables. They contain live bacteria that help populate the intestinal tract.

  • Third, be aware that 70 percent of the antibiotics used in this country are given to livestock in a misguided effort to keep animals healthy. Although the bigger issue is antibiotic resistance, when you eat the meat from these animals, you’re also consuming traces of antibiotics.

Now it’s your turn: What do you do to keep your gut bacteria healthy?

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