When you eat, you are feeding the huge community of microbes living in your gut that can influence blood sugar
Lifestyle changes involving both diet and physical activity are the first go-to advice for managing type 2 diabetes. While scientists had previously established that the benefits of lifestyle changes relied largely on how food affected blood glucose, it was not until recently that they observed the involvement of gut microbes.
The close connection between the gut microbiome and controlling blood glucose arises from the involvement of our gut inhabitants in:
- Telling us what to eat by manufacturing small proteins that are quite similar to hormones such as ghrelin, which regulate hunger.
- Influencing the balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory responses in your immune system, which is mainly located in the small intestine.
- Affecting the speed of glucose absorption in the gut.
Sometimes, gut microbes themselves are involved in controlling blood glucose and related metabolic disorders. Other times, dietary fibers and prebiotics are fermented by gut microbes into multiple small compounds, including short chain fatty acids that can decrease blood glucose and improve insulin sensitivity, leading to better control of glucose metabolism.
Can modifying a person’s gut microbiota mean they can prevent or better control type 2 diabetes?
The gut microbiota of people with type 2 diabetes is altered, as beneficial bacteria are missing and potential problematic bacteria with pro-inflammatory functions are found in excess. That has led scientists to explore individualized dietetic management of patients with type 2 diabetes based on personal characteristics, including their gut microbiota. Gut microbiota composition can also be used as a means of providing an early diagnosis of type 2 diabetes.
While interventions that target the altered gut microbiome, such as a complex mix of dietary fibers, appear promising for improving metabolic diseases, it is too early to recommend specific probiotics alone or combined with prebiotic fibers for managing type 2 diabetes.
Nevertheless, one take-home piece of advice that is effective and safe for controlling blood sugar is increasing the amount and variety of vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts in your diet.
In this interview on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of GMFH, Dr. Stéphane Schneider, professor of Nutrition, Gastroenterologist and Researcher at Université Côte d’Azur and Nice University Hospital, tells us a little more about the connection between the gut microbiome and type 2 diabetes and how we can leverage our inner community of bacteria to prevent or better control type 2 diabetes.
Have you seen our previous interviews with experts? If not, make sure you don’t miss them!
- #GMFH10years: 10 years of the Gut Microbiota for Health World Summit. An interview with Francisco Guarner
- Food intolerances vs food sensitivities: separating the wheat from the chaff. An interview with Elena Verdú
- Pasteurized Akkermansia muciniphila: a new bacterium to fight metabolic syndrome? An interview with Patrice Cani
- Does the “biotic” family ring a bell? Here are some interesting facts about this group of microorganisms. An interview with Mary Ellen Sanders
- You are yourself and your gut microbes: why teaming with microbes matters for maintaining health. An interview with Joël Doré
- Digestive and mental health are closely connected and thanks to our gut microbes, scientists may know why. An interview with Premysl Bercik