November 04, 2013
November is officially “American Diabetes Month,” so-named to raise awareness of just how common this health problem is becoming. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of cases of diabetes rose by 100% or more in 18 states between the years 1995 to 2010. That’s a pretty disturbing increase, especially considering diabetes is a risk factor for other health problems including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve damage, visual problems and even the risk of certain types of cancer.
The most common type of diabetes is type 2 diabetes and it’s strongly linked with obesity. The reason? A significant number of people with type 2 diabetes have a condition called insulin resistance where their cells become less responsive to insulin. As a result, their pancreas has to pump out more insulin to ferry glucose into cells. The pancreas is able to respond to these increased demands for insulin for a while, but in some people, the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas eventually “burn out” and can no longer produce enough insulin. That’s when type 2 diabetes sets in.
Obesity is the number one risk factor for type 2 diabetes, especially excess amounts of “visceral fat,” fat that lies deep in the abdominal cavity. One sign of excess visceral abdominal fat is a large waist circumference. Women who have a waist circumference larger than 35 inches and men that have one greater than 40 inches are a greater risk for type 2-diabetes.
Interestingly, research shows people with type 2 diabetes have a different population of gut bacteria compared to people without the disease. In addition, differences in gut bacteria have been found among people who are obese compared to their leaner counterparts. Studies also show that when people lose the excess weight, their gut bacteria reverts back to a population of bacteria more characteristic of a lean person.
How might gut bacteria be related to type 2 diabetes and obesity? In animal studies, gut bacteria influence metabolic pathways, especially those involved in carbohydrate metabolism. One way they do this is by producing products called short-chain fatty acids that influence carbohydrate metabolism and regulate appetite. They may also affect nutrient absorption and reduce inflammation that may be a factor in insulin resistance. If you’d like to know more about the role the gut plays in blood sugar control and insulin resistance, read this article.
Maintaining a healthy body weight is important for lowering your risk for type 2 diabetes, the diet you eat and the amount of exercise you get are factors you have control over. Eating a balanced diet of mostly unprocessed foods and maintaining a healthy, balanced digestive tract is one step you can take towards maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. What happens in your gut influences how your body functions at a higher level. Your gut is alive with a diversity of bacteria, some helpful and some not so helpful. The key is to maintain a healthy balance of active bacteria in your gut.
The post American Diabetes Month – Be Aware of the Epidemic appeared first on Natren Probiotics Blog.
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