We've all heard the news about the enormous, world-wide epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Not only is this form of diabetes (which results from the body's inability to effectively use insulin) soaring among adults, it is now hitting children and teens as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the cause is primarily excess body weight and weight physical inactivity.
But breakthrough research just published in the journal Nature strongly indicates another, bottom line cause has been discovered - an imbalance of "good" versus "bad" bacteria in the intestinal tract appears to trigger type 2 diabetes.
familiar? Natural health advocates have long insisted that a healthy
digestive tract is crucial to preventing and treating diseases and that
making sure there's a healthy balance between the "good" bacteria and
the disease-promoting kind is key. In recent years, this concept has
been backed up by numerous studies linking the overuse of antibiotics,
which wipe out the "good" germs in the gut, to serious ills. Researchers
have also found that promoting a healthy internal flora rich in the
"good" kind of bacteria is beneficial in a myriad of ways - including
boosting the immune system to fight flu and treating Crohn's disease and
ulcerative colitis. And research recently published by Austrian
scientists in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests an unhealthy balance of gut flora could cause obesity and metabolic syndrome which have long been linked to type 2 diabetes.
have demonstrated that people with type 2 diabetes have a high level of
pathogens in their intestines," lead researcher for the Nature study, Jun Wang from the University of Copenhagen's Department of Biology and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, said in a media statement.
The research team pointed out the 1.5 kilograms of bacteria
that each of us carries around in our intestines have a huge impact on
our well-being. If the equilibrium of what is known as this "microflora"
in the gut is disrupted, health can suffer. For their study, the
scientists zeroed in on the intestinal bacteria of 345 people from
China. The 171 research subjects who had type 2 diabetes were found to
have "a more hostile bacterial environment in their intestines" than
those not suffering from the disease. The study suggests this kind of
flora could increase resistance to different medicines as well as likely
be the trigger for type 2 diabetes. The scientists identified specific
biological indicators in the gut flora that could eventually be used to
identify those at risk of type 2 diabetes as well as to diagnose the
"We are going to transplant gut bacteria
from people that suffer from type 2 diabetes into mice and examine
whether the mice then develop diabetes," another of the lead scientists
behind the project, professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen from the University of Copenhagen, stated.
can you do to keep your internal flora healthy and balanced? For
starters, avoid antibiotics as much as possible. Also, eat a healthy
diet that includes prebiotics (naturally occurring substances found in
thousands of plants species that foster a healthy environment in the
colon that's hostile to the "bad" bacteria) and probiotics (the "good"
bacteria that is found in fermented foods like kefir, yogurt and
sauerkraut that can crowd out bad bacteria and replenish the "good" kind
that can be wiped out by antibiotics).
About the author:
Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek,
Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry,
Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA's
"Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine's "Focus on
Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic's "Men's Health Advisor"
newsletter and many others.