Surprising new research from scientists in India indicates that probiotics may stave off, and even prevent, diabetes.  While clinical research still needs to demonstrate sustainable proof of this, the initial research indicates a promising link between the two.  With over 25 million Americans suffering from diabetes, the simple addition of probiotics sheds a ray of hope in the fight against this debilitating condition.

Diabetes is actually a group of similar diseases, known as diabetes mellitus; each one affects the metabolism of glucose in the body[1].  Understanding that glucose is the body’s main source of energy, fueling all the cells in all the organs, muscle and systems in the body, producing too  much or too little can result in significant health effects, including:

  • Poor Circulation
  • Nerve Damage
  • Weakened or Failing Kidneys
  • Amputation
  • Respiratory Distress
  • Death

Specifically, diabetes affects blood glucose levels by preventing the body from producing the proper amounts of insulin; a hormone needed to manage blood glucose levels.  The most common types of diabetes are known as type 1 and type 2 diabetes.  Specifically:

  •  Type 1 diabetes results in our body’s inability to produce insulin, requiring daily insulin injections to effectively manage the body’s glucose levels.
  • Type 2 diabetes results in the cells in our body not being able to metabolise

insulin properly; this is the most common type and is most often associated with obesity.

The Diabetes-Probiotic Connection

Probiotics are the “good” bacteria that regulate the body’s digestive tract by ensuring a healthy balance between healthy and harmful bacteria.  The growing research into the health benefits of probiotics has lead to an increased interest and urgency to consume probiotics on a daily basis.  Most people consume a healthy, appropriate amount of probiotics by eating a serving of yogurt or kefir each day; others prefer to take an over the counter probiotic supplement.  Regardless of the way probiotics are consumed, the live active bacteria work to ensure a healthy digestive tract.

Researchers now hypothesize that probiotics can prevent diabetes.  Since diabetes is so closely related to obesity, high cholesterol and inflammation, and probiotics have demonstrated benefits in combating these conditions; researchers have found a connection between probiotics and diabetes prevention.

Specifically, and in a lab setting, doctors have found that the bacteria in probiotics removes large amounts of cholesterol present in the lab culture.  Knowing that the lower a person’s cholesterol level, the less likely they are to develop diabetes, researchers are encouraging increased consumption of probiotics as a way to combat diabetes[2].  The researchers involved in this study also found that probiotics may have antioxidant properties, especially for lipids in the blood.  This means that supplementing with probiotics may allow the body to metabolize lipids and cholesterol more efficiently, removing them from the body before accumulating and causing significant health issues.

As research continues to unveil new health benefits associated with probiotic supplementation, nutritionists increasingly recommend consuming probiotics on a daily basis.

[1] “Diabetes – MayoClinic.com.” 2009. 17 Mar. 2013 <http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes/DS01121>

[2] “Doctors Health Press Reports on Study: Probiotics … – Digital Journal.” 2013. 17 Mar. 2013 <http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1131126>