Gut Microbes Are Target for Treatment of Diabetes

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Prediabetes is a precursor to type 2 diabetes. It means that blood sugar levels are elevated, but not quite high enough to be considered full-blown diabetes. Without intervention, prediabetes will likely become type 2 diabetes within 10 years. At least 86 million US adults over age 20 have prediabetes, yet 9 out of 10 of them do not even know it. That means over 77 million adults are walking around with prediabetes unknowingly right this moment. That’s a startling fact.

Over the past few years, scientists have been uncovering a link between gut bacteria and the development of metabolic conditions such as diabetes. The research is fascinating. A study recently presented at the meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society helps to further our understanding of this link.

Twenty eight adults with prediabetes were given a new drug that contains bioactive food ingredients: inulin (a prebiotic fiber), beta glucan (another fiber), and polyphenolic antioxidant compounds, or a placebo twice daily for four weeks. The drug, called NM504, is the first in a new class of therapies called GI microbiome modulators. After four weeks, the group who had taken the prebiotic/fiber/antioxidant drug had lower blood sugar levels and improved insulin sensitivity (the body’s ability to lower blood sugar levels) when compared to those taking placebo.

“We believe that modern Western diets contribute to development of type 2 diabetes, in part because they change the habitat of the microorganisms that reside in the gut. This shifts the microbial populations that live there in ways that affect metabolic health,” noted Mark Heiman, PhD, lead researcher. “This work indicates a new therapeutic target—the GI microbiome—that has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.”

These findings support the idea that it’s not only what you eat—but what your gut microbes do with what you eat—that affects your health. Choosing foods that support a healthy balance of microbes in your gut is the first step to gaining control of your health.

  • Eat plenty of living foods: non-starchy vegetables, low-sugar fruits, and fermented foods.
  • Eat more healthy fats.
  • Steer clear of sugar, grains, and starchy foods that affect blood sugar and feed potentially harmful bacteria.
  • Eat protein at every meal and snack.