Posts Tagged ‘gut flora’

Diabetes and Insulin Resistance Linked to Gut Flora in Study of Obese Patients

redbacteria2 Diabetes and insulin resistance were linked to gut flora in a rather unusual study recently reported on at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes Meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. In the study, insulin sensitivity in obese patients with a set of symptoms known as metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) was improved with a fecal transplant from thin donors.

Yes, you read that correctly… I said a fecal transplant from thin donors!

According to Anne Vrieze MD and colleagues of the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, after six weeks, peripheral insulin sensitivity significantly improved in 18 patients who received feces from lean donors compared with those who received an autologous (self-provided) transplant (P<o.o5).

“This confirms the potential role of gut microbiota in the disturbance of glucose and lipid metabolism in obesity,” Vrieze said during the presentation. “The challenge is to use this knowledge to develop therapies.”

Umm, May I make a suggestion?  PROBIOTICS… especially broad spectrum, high potency probiotics like Essential Flora.  This is not the first study to link diabetes, insulin resistance and obesity to inadequate levels of beneficial bacteria in the GI tract.

Digestive health and immune system integrity depend in large measure on the balance of power in the gut.  We know that the gut plays a major role in immunity (it is said that 80% of our immune cells are found in the gut) and in regulating hormones that impact both obesity and diabetes that is linked to obesity.

While fecal transplantation programs are certainly not common, the idea is being investigated in the U.S. based upon reports of successful treatments with chronic GI tract infections involving the bacteria Clostridium difficile.

Studies in animals have also demonstrated a link between gut flora and obesity, “…as animals given bacteria from the feces of obese mice had a significantly greater increase in total body fat than those colonized with a “lean” microbiota”, Vrieze said.

The researchers saw increased inflammation in both groups following transplant, and cytokines are currently being analyzed. Bacteria from the jejunum are also in the process of being assessed to determine specific changes to the gut flora.

From this research, it appears that there is a significant difference in the gut flora of thin and obese individuals. It is not yet clearly understood how certain bacteria seem to be able to trigger genes that influence insulin metabolism and obesity, but there is certainly a growing mountain of evidence for the importance of probiotics in the diet and as a foundational natural health supplement.

Naturopathic physicians who are presented with a patient with diabetes or metabolic syndrome will always start with probiotics because they are so fundamental to digestive and immune health.  Enhancing insulin sensitivity and controlling inflammation are helpful to all of us, but especially to those who are predisposed to diabetes.

Primary source: European Association for the Study of Diabetes
Source reference:
Vrieze A, et al “Metabolic effects of transplanting gut microbiota from lean donors to subjects with metabolic syndrome” EASD 2010; Abstract 90.

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Study Links Imbalance of Gut Flora to Elevated Colon Cancer Risk

redbacteria2 What a revelation!  A new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine suggests that a shift in the balance between the “good” bacteria and the “bad” bacteria that populate our gut could be a harbinger of colon cancer.  

Natural health practitioners have long proclaimed that “health begins and ends in the gut”, but to hear that message being reinforced from the heart of modern medicine’s “Research Triangle” is refreshing indeed. 

The health of the GI tract has been largely ignored and often trampled by modern medicine in its rush to mask symptoms and “manage”’ diseases. The researchers in this study noted and even emphasized the critical role that beneficial bacteria play in protecting and maintaining our health… although their recommended method of getting enough probiotics in the diet (yogurt) leaves a lot to be desired.

Typical yogurt products are loaded with sugar (or even worse – chemical sweeteners and lack adequate numbers of active probiotic cultures to deliver therapeutic benefits.  A high potency, broad spectrum probiotic supplement like Essential Flora is the easiest and most effective way to boost friendly flora levels.

The findings, which will appear online in the May/June 2010 issue of the journal Gut Microbes, could lead to strategies to identify people who are at high risk as well as ways to manipulate the microbiota to prevent colon cancer.

According to senior study author and research associate professor of medicine at UNC, Temitope Keku, PhD,  “We have come a long way from the time when we didn’t know our risk factors and how they impact our chances of getting colon cancer, but now that we can look at bacteria and their role, it opens up a whole new world and gives us a better understanding of the entire gamut of factors involved in cancer – diet, environment, genes, and microbes.”

It will be very interesting to see where the research goes from here.

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