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Probiotics & Diabetes

Monthly archive for June 2018

Probiotics & Diabetes

Probiotics & Diabetes

Probiotics & Diabetes

The Microbiome

The word bacteria conjures up images of creepy crawly organisms scurrying about the inner workings of your body, maybe even give you the shivers.  But to think that as many as 39 trillion are in the human body sounds alarming since that’s more than the number of cells we have.  Now although bacteria can be harmful, there are also helpful kinds that facilitate health and prevention of diseases.

Our digestive tract that houses these bacteria is known as the microbiome or gut flora, comprised of microorganisms which can be viruses, parasites, fungi and bacteria.  As mentioned before some of these microorganisms can be potentially unfavorable, but many are actually able to ward off disease or illness.  All microbiomes are different due to various factors ranging from DNA, date of birth, breast fed versus formula fed to environmental factors and diets can all influence the different types of microorganisms found.  The more variety in the gut, the better chance of good digestion, mineral absorption, and healthier immune system can be expected.  Other factors that affect this balance of the microbiome is the use of antibiotics that eliminates good and bad bacteria, and illnesses.  An unhealthy balance of gut flora can lead to digestive issues, weight gain, skin disorders, infections, colds, and even mental health issues.

How it affects Diabetes

Seemingly probiotics can improve a number of health issues, pending further research.  But as far as diabetes specifically, studies show that probiotics along with a healthy diet, lowered their A1C by 8.9% as compared to healthy diet alone which lowered A1C by 3.4%.  Other studies show that probiotics can also lower glucose and insulin levels with diabetics, as well as better glucose tolerance & hyperglycemia in animals.  Human studies have shown promise as well but have usually been limited to fewer than 20 participants and makes it hard to determine what factors contributed to the improved glycemic control.

While it is too early to recommend diabetics to take probiotic supplements or eat specific foods to reduce blood sugars, there is conclusive evidence that probiotics can support overall health.  In particular, a healthy microbiome promotes heart health which is of upmost importance for people with diabetes.  In the meantime it is best to select foods that are natural sources of probiotics.  But if checking with your health provider and given the approval, probiotic supplements with multiple strains (at least 30 billion Colony Forming Units) is best.  Also look out for a USP Verified seal as well as monitoring your glucose levels for signs of improvement afterwards.

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The Effects of Smoking & Diabetes

The Effects of Smoking & Diabetes

How Smoking Impacts Diabetics

Cardiovascular Disease

Smokers have a 30-40% higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes over non-smokers.  Smoking also makes it difficult to control the disease and determine proper insulin dosage since it makes your body more resistant to insulin leading to higher glucose levels.  The more prevalent the smoking habit is, the higher the risk of type 2 diabetes becomes.  Smoking has a negative effect on every organ in your body and leads to serious complications for diabetics which include:

  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Poor blood flow to legs and feet which can lead to infections, ulcers, and possible amputations.
  • Peripheral neuropathy (damaged nerves that cause numbness, pain, & poor coordination).
  • Many forms of cancer

As noted, smoking has damaging effects on your cardiovascular system, which can be deadly.

  • 68% of adult diabetics age 65 or older die from heart disease.
  • 16% of adult diabetics age 65 or older die from stroke.
  • Diabetics are 2-4 times more at risk of developing heart disease or stroke than non-diabetics.

Respiratory Effects

Smoking impacts the lungs negatively and can lead to:

  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Other respiratory diseases

Diseases such as these lead to a higher chance of lung infections such as pneumonia, which can be even more dangerous if you are diabetic, since it would raise your blood sugar and make it harder to recover.  Diabetics are almost three times more at risk of dying from pneumonia than non-diabetics.

Eye Health

Diabetics also have a higher risk of eye disease such as:

  • Cataracts
  • Glaucoma
  • Retinopathy (a blinding eye disease)

Smoking can speed up the advancement of retinopathy and complicate matters which can lead to eventual blindness.

Lowering Your Risk

Avoiding tobacco products should be at the top of the list if you wish lower your risk of complications with diabetes, which can prove to be more difficult the longer history you have of being a smoker.  Smoking is highly addictive so you may start off with a few tips to aid in quitting such as:

  • Make a list of reasons to stop smoking.
  • Set a quit date.
  • Share quit date with loved ones to help hold you accountable.

Some find quitting cold turkey is the best way to kick the habit, others prefer decreasing cigarette intake over time is their best bet.  Another method is with the use of prescribed medications or over-the-counter aids like nicotine patches or gum, but please note that nicotine in these products will raise your blood sugar.

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