Type 2 diabetes can be a 'devastating diagnosis' says expert
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Researchers at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center have found that people who have higher levels of Flavonifractor in the gut have lower levels of insulin sensitivity, which is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes. Meanwhile, people who have higher levels of the Coprococcus gut bacteria tend to have higher insulin sensitivity. Dr Mark Goodarzi now has a burning question because of the ongoing prospective study, published in the peer-reviewed journal Diabetes.
“The big question we’re hoping to address is: did the microbiome differences cause the diabetes, or did the diabetes cause the microbiome differences?” Dr Goodarzi pondered.
As author of the Microbiome and Insulin Longitudinal Evaluation Study (MILES), Dr Goodarzi is keen to “identify the specific bacteria that we need to be modulating to prevent or treat diabetes”.
His research team have been assessing data accumulated since 2018, with the latest cohort consisting of 352 people without known diabetes.
Recruited from the Wake Forest Baptist Health System in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the study participants had three stool samples collected.
Genetic sequencing was implemented to study the participants’ microbiome, specifically looking for bacteria that earlier studies have associated with insulin resistance.
Each participant also filled out a diet questionnaire and took an oral glucose tolerance test, which was used to determine their ability to process glucose.
The investigators found that 28 participants had oral glucose levels that met the criteria for diabetes.
Another 135 people qualified for pre-diabetes, which means their blood sugars were higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
This is where they found Coprococcus gut bacteria to be associated with better insulin levels, whereas Flavonifractor was linked to insulin resistance.
Scientists are going to keep checking how the participants’ microbiome changes over time.
Diabetes UK explains: “Insulin resistance is when your body’s cells don’t respond properly to the insulin that your body makes or the insulin you inject as a medication.
“Because your body cannot use the insulin as it should your blood sugar levels can increase.”
What causes insulin resistance?
Insulin resistance is associated with too much fat stored in and around the liver and pancreas.
An excess of internal fat is linked with obesity, which is strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Signs of insulin resistance can include:
- Toilet – going for a wee a lot, especially at night
- Thirsty – being really thirsty
- Tired – feeling more tired than usual
- Thinner – losing weight without trying to
- Genital itching or thrush
- Cuts and wounds take longer to heal
- Blurred eyesight
- Increased hunger.
People who are overweight could benefit by losing weight in order to improve insulin sensitivity.
If you have already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, weight loss can put the condition into remission.
Remission means that blood sugar levels are below the diabetes range without needing to take any diabetes medication.
People who have type 1 diabetes will not be able to put their diabetes into remission, not even if they are a healthy weight.
This is because type 1 diabetes is not linked to excess body fat.
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