The term “gut bacteria” or “gut flora” may sound odd but this bacteria normally lives in your bowels and is quite beneficial. International research has revealed gut bacteria could help in the prevention and treatment of health problems such as diabetes and obesity. Discover how gut flora, also known as “good bacteria.” can be important for people with diabetes.
- Major health issues for people with diabetes include inflammation, insulin resistance and possible weight gain. A recent study showed a type of gut bacteria could help develop cutting edge treatments for metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Probiotics were shown to help gut lining functions. This could lead to a reduction in insulin resistance, inflammation and weight gain.
- Additional studies were done to research gastric bypass surgery and gut flora. The results indicated bariatric surgery can alter gut bacteria and help people to lose weight. This could be a benefit for people with diabetes who are combating obesity.
- One study showed gut bacteria may help with the development of insulin resistance. It also supported a connection between diabetes and gut flora. Ongoing research is being done to find out if a person’s gut bacteria are related to insulin resistance and diabetes and how it works.
- Inflammation is one of the reasons why people with diabetes are prone to developing heart disease. Different gut floras live in each person’s body. One study showed a link between gut bacteria, inflammation and cholesterol levels. Additional studies are being done to explore this link and whether certain gut bacteria can help reduce cholesterol levels and minimize the possibility of developing heart disease.
- Ultimately, the foods people eat can influence the gut flora they develop. Healthy gut bacteria in the intestinal tract can help the body digest and absorb essential nutrients and vitamins as well as combat toxins. Good gut bacteria can boost the immune system and help regulate metabolism.
- The goal is to have diverse gut bacteria for improved well-being. While genetics may play a role in our gut bacteria, we also have some control through healthy lifestyle habits. Research has shown that what we eat as infants may influence our gut flora in later life; those who were breast fed as infants tend to have more diverse gut flora as adults. It can help to have a well-balanced diet, exercise daily and quit unhealthy habits such as smoking. Foods shown to help improve your gut bacteria include blueberries, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, plain yogurt, beans and fermented foods including sauerkraut and kefir.
- Discuss the role of gut flora with your diabetes health care team. Work with a diabetes nurse educator or dietitian to help you develop a healthy diet based on your unique profile. Keep diabetes supplies on-hand to test your blood sugar levels regularly and determine your progress. Share the results during routine medical exams.
As researchers learn more about the links between gut bacteria, insulin resistance and inflammation, additional treatment options could become available for people with diabetes. A balanced diet, exercise and healthy lifestyle habits can help promote beneficial gut flora. It is amazing that these “good bugs” could be a key to better health.