We’re finding out more and more about how our gut bacteria influence our health. We already know the direct effect on immunity, weight, mood and other areas.
In the past, probiotics have been cited for their beneficial effects
on blood sugar, but a newer proof-of-principle study from researchers
at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and published in the journal Diabetes,
showed that the scientists were able to reduce blood glucose levels in
diabetic rats using common bacteria found in the human gut.
Senior author of the study, John March, and colleagues from Cornell
say that, with the results of this study, "they may be one step closer
to a cure for the condition.” The team plans to test higher doses of the
probiotic in diabetic rats to investigate whether it can completely
reverse their diabetic condition. Additional plans include developing
the probiotic into a pill humans can use, which, if successful, the
researchers say the likelihood would be for diabetics to take the pill
each morning to help manage their blood sugar.
The researchers created a common strain of “friendly” human gut bacteria named Lactobacilli—a
probiotic strain which is already known to deliver a variety of health
benefits ranging from digestive health to skin health—to secrete
Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1), which is a hormone that releases
insulin as a response to food.
Here’s how the study went: for a total of 90 days, each day the
research team gave one group of diabetic rats the probiotic, monitoring
effects on blood glucose levels and comparing the results with the
diabetic rats which didn’t receive the probiotic.
Here are the astounding results: at the close of the 90 days, the
rats receiving the probiotic had blood glucose levels up to 30 percent
lower than those not receiving the probiotic. It had those amazing
outcomes because the probiotic converted the rat’s upper intestinal
epithelial cells to cells that acted a lot like pancreatic beta cells,
according to the researchers. In healthy people, the pancreatic beta
cells secrete insulin and regulate blood glucose levels.
March explains, “The amount of time to reduce glucose levels
following a meal is the same as in a normal rat, and it is matched to
the amount of glucose in the blood, just as it would be with a
normal-functioning pancreas. It’s moving the center of glucose control
from the pancreas to the upper intestine.”
This study’s finding could have far-reaching implications for
millions of people, since more than 29 million Americans have diabetes,
which is also the seventh-leading cause of death in our country. Another
86 million others have pre-diabetes, a condition in which blood sugar
levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified
as Type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Without proper diet, losing weight and incorporating moderate physical
activity, 15-to-30 percent of those with pre-diabetes will develop Type 2
diabetes within five years.
With diabetes, the pancreas is either not able to produce enough of
the hormone insulin or the body’s cells do not effectively respond to
insulin—or both. The outcome is that blood glucose levels are higher
than normal, leading to hyperglycemia, or diabetes. Complications from
diabetes are troubling and can include stroke, heart disease, nerve
damage and more.
So, stay tuned. Probiotics may soon be part of the answer in the battle against diabetes.
- Extraordinary Health News