Is The Secret To Balancing Blood Sugar In Your Gut?

Image by Miquel Llonch / Stocksy

Considering the fact that one-third of Americans have prediabetes, maintaining healthy blood sugar should be at the top of our health to-do list. Researchers all over the world are working to better understand what factors put so many of our blood sugar numbers in unhealthy territory—and what we can do to fix it and prevent the problem in the first place.

The good news is that we're making progress. And now, a new study points to the idea that targeting the gut microbiome is an area we should definitely be exploring.

The results of the study, which was published in the journal mSphere, showed that the type 2 diabetes drug acarbose causes specific changes to the gut microbiome that can improve blood sugar balance. More specifically, when animals were fed a high dose of acarbose in combination with a high-starch diet, the bacteria in their stools contained more Bacteroidaceae and Bifidobacteriaceae and fewer Verruocomicorbiacea and the Bacteroidales S24-7 bacteria. These changes were reversible and diet-dependent, meaning the link was only true for animals fed the specifically high-starch diet and the changes went away when the medication was stopped.

This study is worth knowing about because it highlights the importance of the microbiome when it comes to our overall health, especially when it comes to our blood sugar. It's also a good reminder that we should be paying attention to how medications—especially commonly prescribed ones like birth control, steroids, and of course, antibiotics—alter our gut microbiome and how that might affect our health.

According to the principal investigator Nicole Koropatkin, Ph.D., we've known for a while that there's a link between gut microbiome changes and diabetes. In fact, popular diabetes drugs like metformin work, in part, by altering the microbiome in a way that improves glucose tolerance. "We know that there seem to be certain gut bacteria compositions that are more closely linked with diabetes, and that might even precede the clinical onset of diabetes," she explained.

So will this study change how we treat blood sugar issues and diabetes? It could in the future, when we know more. For now, Dr. Koropatkin recommends upping your fiber intake if you're concerned about your blood sugar. "From everything we know about the gut microbiota, the best thing to do is eat a high-fiber diet; this is your best chance for keeping and collecting a microbiome that produces a lot of short-chain fatty acids that regulate immune development and energy homeostasis," she explained. Not sure if you have a blood sugar issue? Check out these 15 signs you have a blood sugar problem.

Ready to learn more about how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

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