Last week was National Diabetes Week and very timely, a recent study* has drawn a connection between our gut microbiota and our risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.
Specifically, the study observed, gut microbiota composition was altered in study participants with impaired glucose tolerance, combined glucose tolerance and Type 2 Diabetes but not in those with impaired fasting glucose. Importantly also, it showed that butyrate-producing bacteria were decreased in both prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes.
What this study really tells us is that gut health and specifically ensuring we nourish bacteria, which produce butyrate, is an important factor to help prevent Type 2 Diabetes.
If you haven’t heard of butyrate before, put simply, it is a short-chain fatty acid which bacteria produce after feeding off fibre – so that answers what is likely to be your next question, how do I promote the growth of butyrate producing bacteria, fibre!!
Very few of us consume adequate dietary fibre and this is a real concern considering fibre offers an array of health benefits from gut health to heart health, protection against cancer and fibre is also an important tool for weight management.
Prebiotics are particularly beneficial when it comes to butyrate production. If you don’t already known, prebiotics are carbohydrate-containing foods known to resist digestion in the small intestine and therefore reach the colon where they are fermented by gut flora. In other words, they are the fuel that feeds out gut bacteria, and particularly the good guys!
Common prebiotic rich foods include:
- Leek, onion and garlic
- Asparagus and artichoke
- Oats, wheat bran, barley and rye bread
- Chickpeas, lentils and red kidney beans
If you don’t already eat these foods, next time you are at the grocery store, try picking some up and make a conscious effort to include them in your daily diet. If you have a sensitive gut or don’t normally consume much fibre, start slow and see how your body adjusts.
Not only is getting adequate fibre important but so too is making sure we eat a wide variety of plant foods in our daily diet. The current recommendation is 30 different plant types each week.
In fact, I recently talked about this HERE and showed you how to diversify your plant intake.
While many of us count calories, fats and carbs, we should perhaps be placing more emphasis on counting fibre and the number of different plants in our diet! This is because, we are continuing to learn, gut health has a systemic affect on all areas of health and we can all benefit from nourishing our guts!
*Wu, H et al, The Gut Microbiota in Prediabetes and Diabetes: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Study, Cell Metabolism, https://www.cell.com/cell-metabolism/pdfExtended/S1550-4131(20)30312-0?mc_cid=413e8c9e41&mc_eid=9b74236d92