Diabetes is one of the most common metabolic disorders, affecting over 37 million Americans. While you can never entirely prevent the onset of diabetes, taking care of your overall health will deliver positive impacts. A large-scale study is diving deep into the connection between gut health and diabetes. What does the data say? Here is what you need to know about your gut microbiome in general and how its health can affect your odds of developing diabetes.
What is Your Gut Microbiome?
Your gut microbiome is defined as the array of microbes that lives within your intestinal system. These microbes encompass a wide array of different types of bacteria, viruses and fungi. While some types of microbes are dangerous to your health, there are also healthy microbes that boost immune function and play a crucial role in the digestive process.
Because of this yin and yang, it is important that your gut houses the right balance of bacteria. A number of environmental factors can wreak havoc on the body’s microbiome, triggering a higher risk for developing a variety of adverse health conditions. This includes a higher propensity to developing allergies, mental health concerns, cardiovascular disease and more. In recent years, there has also been a connection established between gut health and the risk of diabetes.
The Connection Between Gut Health and Diabetes
A study that was recently published in Nature Medicine lends more credence to the belief that the right type of gut microbes can lower your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. In the study, the researchers analyzed a host of data on the participants’ microbiomes, as well as their individual dietary habits and biomarkers.
What they found is that there was a strong connection between what the participants ate and the levels of particular metabolic biomarkers of diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. In fact, the researchers pointed out that the health of the microbiome displayed a stronger association with these biomarkers than even genetics.
For instance, a microbiome with an abundance of the Prevotella copri and Blastocystis species was linked to a more optimal blood sugar level after eating a meal. There were a number of additional species that were connected to lower levels of blood fats after eating. The researchers were so confident about these findings that they detailed how data from a person’s microbiome could be used to predict an individual risk of certain cardiometabolic diseases, even in the absence of symptoms.
Gut Health and Type 1 Diabetes in Children
In addition to the connection between gut health and diabetes in general, scientists are also looking at the link between the function of the gut microbiome and the onset of Type 1 diabetes in children. A study published in the American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Care Journal detailed how researchers found a link between Type 1 diabetes in children and lower microbiota diversity. This means that the children in the study with Type 1 diabetes displayed higher levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and lipopolysaccharides. It is a well-known medical fact that inflammation is a significant contributor to the development of autoimmune diseases.
The researchers also found that kids diagnosed with type 1 diabetes also displayed a higher level of gut permeability, known as leaky gut syndrome in layman’s terms.
How to Promote Optimal Gut Health
Now that you know that the health of your gut may impact your odds of developing diabetes, you probably want to know what you can do now to encourage a well-functioning system. Here are just a few ways that you can support ideal gut health.
Nourish Your Body
Eating a wide array of foods is one of the best ways to boost gut health. You want to choose foods that are high in fiber and rich in vitamins and minerals. The cornerstone of your daily diet should be whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans.
Focus on Fermented Foods
While eating a diet focused on whole foods is a great start in maintaining great gut health, you should also be diligent about including fermented foods. Good choices include yogurt, tempeh, kimchi, kefir and sauerkraut.
Take a Probiotic Supplement
One of the easiest ways to support gut health is to take a probiotic supplement. While you can certainly find these live organisms in food, a supplement adds an extra layer of insurance. Probiotics have been shown to boost microbiome function by helping to restore the gut’s health, particularly in people with pre-existing health conditions.
It is important to understand that what you eat affects more than just your general health and your waistline. What you put into your mouth is also what feeds the trillions of microbes that take up residents within the gut. Without the proper nourishment, these microbes will not flourish and thrive in ways that deliver optimal health.