Why do we need to challenge the way that we are currently treating diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes used to be a problem only faced by those later in life, but now even young children are being diagnosed with the condition. It is clear we cannot continue to only treat the symptoms of diabetes which is costing the NHS more than £6 billion each year, we must treat the causes.
Type 2 diabetes is caused by insulin insensitivity due to an over-exposure to sugar in most people. For years people have been told to exercise more and eat more healthily to prevent the onset of diabetes, however the rising figures of people with this preventable disease shows that this advice is not being adhered to. Perhaps this is due to the fact people need more guidance as to what a ‘healthy diet’ constitutes and more direction as to what they should be eating to prevent the contraction of the disease, or, if they have been diagnosed with prediabetes, to prevent the disease from progressing any further.
How are diabetes and the gut associated?
Recent studies have shown that the microbiome is altered in diabetes and therefore could offer a possible alternative way to treat type 2 diabetes non-clinically. (1)
A particular strain of bacteria that have been recognised as being important in diabetes are gram-negative bacteria which contain liposaccharides (LPS). The proportion of gram-negative bacteria have been shown to increase on a high-fat diet and LPS has been linked to causing inflammation in the gut (gut inflammation has been shown to be present in many diabetics).
By changing the proportions of different bacteria in the gut to favour gram-positive bacteria (and deter gram-negative bacteria), it may be possible to alter the microbiome in a way that is beneficial to diabetics and perhaps allow them to be less dependent on insulin through a few simple lifestyle changes. (1)
A study by Zhao et al. (2) put type 2 diabetics on two different diets, one that was in high in fibre and one that was not. When they transplanted the faecal matter (and thus the bacteria from the gut microbiome) from the patients into mice, they found that the mice receiving transplants from patients on the high-fibre diet had the best blood glucose levels, suggesting that the differing strains of bacteria influenced by high fibre foods was effecting this and thus simply by including high fibre foods in their diets diabetics could stabilise their blood glucose levels more without the use of insulin (or at least reduce their insulin-dependency).
So what changes do you need to make to alter your microbiome?
Luckily for us, faecal transplants are not necessary to alter our microbiome (although gut microbiome transplants could be developed in future), it is much simpler than this. The proportions of bacteria in our gut and the diversity that are present (all which contribute to a healthy gut) can simply be altered by adding a few foods into your diet:
- high fibre foods (3) including wholegrains, seeds and vegetables e.g. onions, garlic, dandelion greens, leeks, asparagus, raw apple cider vinegar and jicama. These foods act as prebiotics which encourage the growth of particular, beneficial strains of bacteria in the gut. (4)
- fermentable foods e.g. yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir and kombucha. These are probiotics and directly add beneficial bacteria to your microbiota to increase its diversity. (3)
- plant-based carbohydrates (gut bacteria derive their nutrients from these carbohydrates and so this will encourage their healthy growth) e.g. barley, oats, lentils, split peas and black peas.
How can you learn to incorporate these foods into your diet?
Perhaps some of these foods are unfamiliar to you and it seems daunting to try to include them in your familiar recipes. If this is the case, you should give Reset Your Health a go.
The RYH course offers a 4 week plan which gives you a diverse range of recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner that have been specifically designed to remove all refined sugars and include all of these ingredients to improve your gut health as well as maintain your blood sugar levels.
By improving your gut health you can also boost your immune system and reduce gut inflammation. And on RYH you will also learn to cook a range of different meals and become happy and healthier overall. Why not give it a go today?
1. Aydin Ö, Nieuwdorp M, Gerdes V. The Gut Microbiome as a Target for the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. Curr Diab Rep. 2018;18(8):55. Published 2018 Jun 21.
2. Zhao L, Zhang F, Ding X, et al. Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes. Science. 2018;359(6380):1151-1156.
3. McGuinness AJ, Jacka FN, Marx W. The gut microbiome and type 2 diabetes: Current evidence and future directions. Journal of DiabetesNursing. 2018;22:JDN027
4. Aw W, Fukuda S. Understanding the role of the gut ecosystem in diabetes mellitus. J Diabetes Investig. 2018;9(1):5-12.