How is diabetes linked to the microbiome?

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The Microbiome & Diabetes

Diabetes is caused by a lack of response to insulin, which stimulates the body to take up glucose. This results in elevated levels of glucose in the blood (called hyperglycaemia), which then causes damage to the body. There are three types of diabetes: gestational, type 1 and type 2.

Type 2 diabetes is closely linked to obesity as a risk factor, and both conditions have a strong gut microbiota connection. People with type 2 diabetes make insulin, but their cells do not use it as well as they should, and they become insulin resistant. Just like with obesity, there are studies indicating that modulating the microbiome improves glucose homeostasis and decreases the effects of type 2 diabetes.

Several studies have reported that prebiotics and probiotics can decrease the inflammatory responses and improve metabolic control and insulin sensitivity in type 2 diabetes patients. However, given the number of prebiotics and probiotics in the market, and the lack of regulation on their production and use, it has not been possible to make medical recommendations on their use. In general, diets rich in fibre can help restore helpful microbes and decrease inflammation. Fecal transfer has shown some improved insulin sensitivity and multiple courses of antibiotics (2-5 courses taken over years) were associated with increased risk. Type 2 diabetes treatment can also include the drug Metformin which lowers blood glucose and partially works through the microbiota, which is why it must be taken orally.


Photo credit: @kateredfern on Unsplash

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