Is poor gut health putting you at risk of diabetes? Find out the role gut health plays in developing diabetes
Could improving your gut health lower your risk of developing diabetes? 1.5 million new cases of diabetes are diagnosed each year, according to the American Diabetes Association. Recent research linking gut health and diabetes strongly suggests that lack of healthy gut bacteria may be partially to blame. Improving the balance of healthy gut bacteria in your system may decrease insulin resistance and significantly decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future. That should put gut health on the top of everyone’s healthy living list!
Diabetic gut syndrome
We all carry almost six pounds of microbes, otherwise known as intestinal bacteria, in our gut. These gut flora form a protective barrier in the lining of the digestive system. Antibiotics, environmental toxins, and certain prescription medications can reduce the amount of beneficial bacteria and cause unhealthy bacteria to thrive. This can cause the protective barrier to become thin and permeable, so that food particles and toxins are able to leak into the blood stream and cause inflammation of the immune system. Gut permeability, also known as leaky gut or diabetic gut syndrome, has been found to be a common factor in many autoimmune diseases including type 1 diabetes.
The link between gut bacteria and diabetes
The link between gut bacteria and type 1 diabetes has been recognized for years. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease, where an individual’s body mistakenly attacks its own cells that produce insulin. Scientists have been actively exploring the benefits of improving gut health in children with type 1 diabetes.
Recent research reported by the Cleveland Clinic suggests that gut health also plays a role in the development of type 2 diabetes. The inflammation caused by diabetic gut syndrome can change insulin sensitivity, so individuals need to take medication or insulin to keep their body functioning correctly. In addition to type 2 diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory bowel disease have also been linked to changes in gut health.
Researchers are continuing to explore the link between gut health and diabetes to develop new strategies to ensure regular insulin function. Experiments with gut flora may be able to reduce or eliminate the need to take insulin. One promising study found that a hormone change caused by gastric bypass surgery actually triggered the pancreas to produce insulin again.
How you can improve your gut health and lower diabetes risk
There are actions you can take right now to improve your gut health and lower your chances of developing diabetes. Diet and lifestyle are the two key factors that affect gut health. You can significantly improve your gut health by making the following simple changes:
- Switch to a low-fat, high fiber diet to help your body develop a diverse, healthy population of gut bacteria
- Rebuild healthy gut bacteria with living bacteria found in fermented foods and beverages such as kefir and yogurt
- Take pre- and probiotics to help build healthy gut flora. Many health professionals recommend taking these supplements after a course of antibiotics.
- Avoid foods that can cause autoimmune reactions. Wheat gluten is the best-known trigger of autoimmune responses, but there are many other foods that can cause inflammation of your autoimmune system. An allergist or endocrinologist may be able to pinpoint your specific triggers.
- Stress can affect gut flora. Try to get enough rest and participate in stress-management activities such as yoga or meditation
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