November is Diabetes Awareness Month
I recall reading an article about diabetes long ago that stated we should all eat like we are diabetic. That statement stuck with me and interested me enough to study this ailment that affects more than 37 million Americans (1 in 10). Approximately 90-95% of that number is type 2 diabetes.
Type 1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes, is a chronic condition where the person is dependent on insulin because the pancreas is unable to make it on its own. Type 2 diabetes is when cells do not adequately respond to insulin needed to turn food into energy. Both are characterized by elevated blood sugar levels and swayed by circumstances such as genetics, lifestyle, and gut health. Type 2 has the same implications as Type 1, although Type 2 can potentially be avoided with attention to lifestyle modifications. With all the consideration that the gut microbiome is receiving, let’s look at how diabetes relates to gut health.
Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas. Insulin resistance, the precursor to type 2 diabetes, is the result of your pancreas not being able to keep up with the demand of insulin needed, so in turn, our blood sugar rises, establishing a pattern and signaling a prediabetic situation that, if left unmanaged, turns into a chronic metabolic diagnosis. Being inactive and obese can also result in developing this condition. Emerging evidence also suggests that the microbial diversity of the gut microbiome can impact insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.
1. An imbalance in the gut microbiome, known as dysbiosis, has also been connected to the onset of diabetes.
2. Chronic inflammation and an unhealthy gut environment can further contribute to and exacerbate insulin resistance and the progression of diabetes.
3. Dietary fiber and the fermentation process in a healthy, supported microbiome produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA.) This metabolic reaction has a positive protective impact on glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
4. The proper nutrients and a diet rich in whole food plants, whole grains, nuts, and seeds (prebiotics) are the fiber necessary for the development of SCFA’s in addition to probiotics promoting a healthy gut microbiome.
5. You are what you can digest, replacing the adage, “You are what you eat.” An unfavorable change in the gut microbiome can drastically affect the way our bodies metabolize vital nutrients we need to grow, repair, and heal. If the body is not effectively processing and utilizing sugars, insulin resistance is a risk factor not to be ignored.
This ailment is exhausting for the body and can lead to concerning health problems such as heart disease, vision loss, and kidney disease. Symptoms, if any, are typically unnoticed as this is a gradual disease as opposed to Type 1, where symptoms can occur suddenly. Prevention and healthy lifestyle habits are crucial, and testing is as easy as a simple blood test.
Peeing a lot, especially at night
Sore and frequent infections
Adopting improved habits and lifestyle modifications will aid in controlling blood sugar and the optimal function of the pancreas. Managing weight can also reduce risk factors associated with high blood pressure and heart disease.
Aging well and awareness is a proactive start. Speak to your medical professional if unsure or take this online quiz to assess your risk.
In good health!