Probiotics Preventing Type 1 Diabetes
Probiotics Preventing Type 1 Diabetes – Probiotics are like friendly bacteria that promote good health. Found in foods such as yogurt and in pill supplements, they have become an instant hit in American supermarkets and health food stores with their marketing promises of easing stomach ailments.
In recent research, probiotics have proven to be important to type 1 and type 2 diabetics. The hope is that using probiotics to alter the type of bacteria in the gut may prevent type 1 diabetes, and that probiotics may one day be a part of the treatment strategy for type 2 diabetics.
The word probiotic translates to “for life,” and if you’ve been down the aisle of a health supplement store or read yogurt labels lately, chances are you’ve seen the term actively marketed on product packages. Probiotics are live, active bacteria. They are also called cultures. In your digestive tract right now is a layer of healthy bacteria often referred to as gut or intestinal flora; like plant life, healthy bacteria are “fertile soil that contribute to colon health” and the health of your whole body, says AskDrSears.com. Two of the most common strains include Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium.
Probiotics promote healthy digestion by making your digestive tract a more acidic environment, thus discouraging harmful bacteria that cause stomach upset.
They can help with regular bowel movements and may give you some relief with diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and lactose intolerance.
For Type 1 Diabetics
Probiotics have important applications for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. Researchers at the University of Florida reported in May 2011 in “Future Medicine” that probiotics can prevent or delay the onset of type 1 diabetes. The premise echoes what scientists have known for some time. Your gut is your body’s largest immune system, and taking probiotics is a way of fighting off illness. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. The University of Florida is marketing applications to license a novel approach to combating the disease using isolates of Lactobacillus as a food additive. The university claims the approach modifies gut microbiota, decreases oxidative stress and inflammation and reduces intestinal leakage.
For Type 2 Diabetics
The gut flora in type 2 diabetics may be different from people without diabetes. So say the authors of a report published in Feb. 2010 by “PLoS One,” who suggest there is a link between metabolic diseases and the composition of bacterial populations in the intestines.
In their sample, people with diabetes had lower proportions of phylum Firmicutes and class Clostridia and higher levels of Betaproteobacteria. In addition, the balance of some bacteria to one another was highly dependent on blood sugar levels. They suggest that gut bacteria should be factored into strategies to control diabetes.
Probiotics may help prevent and treat yeast infections, which is a common problem in diabetes caused by high blood sugar [hyperglycemia]. According to authors of a Nov. 2008 report in “American Family Physician,” healthcare providers are advising patients to take probiotics when they take antibiotics. The idea is that probiotics can mitigate some of the side effects of antibiotics, which include destroying healthy bacteria. The most common way to get probiotics is to eat them, which means you’re not likely to get them covered under your insurance. Dairy products, especially yogurt, are the most common sources of added probiotics. Look for the label to read “contains live active cultures.” Miso, tempeh and some soy beverages are growing in probiotic use. Probiotics also come as supplements in pill and cream form. In clinical settings, probiotics can be injected directly into the intestines.
With the amount of marketing surrounding probiotics, it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. If you’re a diabetic and considering probiotics, it’s important to avoid supplements that claim disease-curing powers. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine cautions that probiotics haven’t been thoroughly studied for certain populations, like children, the elderly and people with immune system disorders. Talk with your doctor about the safety, benefits and potential problems associated with taking probiotics.
Health-e-Solutions comment: We have been successful to normalize the gut microbiome via healthy, very low-glycemic, foods. We would definitely not be in favor of probiotics in dairy because of the cow’s milk association with the development of type 1 diabetes. So we prefer fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut, and focusing on foods considered to be prebiotics – those that feed healthy bacteria in the gut.
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- “American Family Physician”; Probiotics; Benjamin Kligler and Andreas Cohrssen; Nov. 2008
- dLife: Get the Most Out of Your Yogurt
- University of Florida Office of Technology Licensing: Novel Probiotic Compositions for Delaying or Preventing the Onset of Type 1 Diabetes
- “Future Medicine”; Microbiology of Type 1 Diabetes: Possible Implications For Management Of The Disease; Adriana Giongo et al.; May 2011
- “PLoS One”; Gut Microbiota in Human Adults with Type 2 Diabetes Differs from Non-Diabetic Adults; Nadja Larsen et al.; Feb. 2010
- University of Alabama Birmingham Medicine; Probiotics; Jennifer Jordan and Debbie Strong