Preventing Diabetes with a Healthy Gut

There are several factors that lend themselves to an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, such as genetics and lifestyle, but there is another factor that may be overlooked: our gut microbiome. Research suggests that the environment within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract may offer a window to overall health, including the risk of developing insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes.

There are varying types of microbes within the GI tract that produce unique metabolites depending on what is fed to them. A recent study published in the journal Science found that participants’ A1c (glycated hemoglobin) numbers improved when consuming dietary fiber, a prebiotic that feeds the microbiome. The Harvard School of Public Health has also reported that certain metabolites can decrease the risk of Type 2 diabetes and help to control blood sugar levels.

The gut microbiome is originally formed during infancy, mostly due to genetics, yet alterations can be made later in life based on dietary and lifestyle factors. A diet high in both prebiotics and probiotics is supportive of a healthy and diverse gut microbiome, which can decrease the risk of certain chronic diseases.

Prebiotics feed the microbiome and include dietary fiber, bananas, onions and oatmeal. Probiotics promote the growth of healthy bacteria and include yogurt that contains live and active cultures, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha, pickles and tempeh. While more research is needed to confirm the effects, including prebiotics and probiotics into our diet appears to be one way to lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes and aid in blood sugar control.

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