Diabetes affects how you process what you eat and the way your body converts the glucose from food into accessible energy to get you through the day.
It’s a chronic condition that is increasing in prevalence right across the globe. One person every five minutes develops diabetes in Australia. You probably know someone who has it – even if they don’t know it yet.
Everybody needs the hormone insulin to do the job of converting blood glucose so it can be distributed to other cells throughout the body. Otherwise it gets stuck and makes high blood sugar, which can lead to all sorts of complications.
Insulin is naturally produced in the pancreas. In Type 1 diabetes the auto-immune illness stops the pancreas from making insulin. Type 2 diabetes builds up over time as insulin becomes less effective and cannot do the job as well as it used to.
Type 2 diabetes is the most widespread in the community, and numbers are growing fast. Insulin resistance is strongly associated with lifestyle factors, including how well we look after ourselves and support our gut health.
What is the relationship between gut bacteria and diabetes?
Your gut and the hundreds of microbiome species that live there operate like a command centre for your overall health and wellbeing.
There are now innumerable studies showing the links between gut health and your immune system, and the connection to mental health, autoimmunity, endocrine disorders and diabetes.
Your guts doesn’t like to be inflamed. It upsets the balance, can cause the gut to leak and diminishes your body’s system management, including how you absorb nutrients, store fat and regulate blood sugar.
Studies have shown that people with diabetes have very different gut bacteria to healthy individuals. The microbiota in the gut may be out of balance due to dietary factors, lifestyle factors or medications.
There’s also growing research to suggest that autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes emerge due to poor gut health and the resulting systemic inflammation, which then affects how well the immune system can function.
The biggest part of the wellbeing puzzle seems to be gut health. Having a healthy gut supports multiple systems and functions right throughout your body.
Can good gut health improve diabetes?
The answer is ‘yes’. There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that looking after your guts helps you to maintain healthy blood sugar, which is integral for optimal health and balanced energy.
The diabetes epidemic comes with a major cost to the health system, but mostly the illness impacts the wellbeing of individuals and their families.
There are major long-term health implications. Consistently high blood sugars put pressure on the blood vessels and can cause nerve damage that leads to blindness, amputation and heart and kidney diseases. So it’s definitely worth investing in your family’s future now. Gut health is the first place to start.
What should I do about gut health to prevent or manage diabetes?
The good news is that there’s a combination of things you can do to support your health and wellbeing:
- Check blood sugars: visit a health practitioner. Type 2 diabetes can creep up slowly so the sooner you know where you are at, the better chance you have to manage or reverse it
- Make dietary changes: your gut is most affected by what you eat. Support it with a healthy diet that contains fibre and a good balance of plant-based foods and lean proteins
- Try lifestyle changes: stay hydrated, sleep well, stress less and get more fresh air and regular exercise
- Boost the bacteria: move more troops into your command centre. Include probiotics and fermented foods in your diet such as yoghurt or kombucha; and support your gut with a targeted gut care formula.