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June 28, 2018

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…

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Probiotics & Diabetes

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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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