New Link Uncovered
With both kinds of diabetes increasing worldwide, and the US leading all other developed nations in prevalence by a long shot (30 million US of 46 million total cases worldwide), some understanding of the mechanism that creates this disease is a welcomed discovery. Over the last 10 years, research into diabetes has found a link with intestinal permeability and gut bacteria. It turns out that the microflora in your digestive tract may play a big role in the development of diabetes.
Of Mice and Men
In a 2012 study, a team of researchers induced poor gut function in mice by giving them a drug we use in Western medicine called Tamoxifen. The Tamoxifen was able to completely disrupt the microbiome of the mice.
Scientists discovered a strong similarity between the intestinal linings of the mice fed Tamoxifen and those with diabetes. Both groups showed improvement when given insulin. According to the group of scientists, this means that there is a noteworthy relationship between gut bacteria, gut mucosa, and diabetes.
The Human Microbiome Project
“It has become clear that many, if not all autoimmune diseases entertain an intimate connection to the bacterial gut flora, a cosmos of trillions of different bacteria, forming diverse consortia distributed along the length of the intestinal tube.”
— National Academy of Sciences
Over the past decade, since The Human Microbiome Project began, our understanding of immune reactivity and, in particular, of autoimmune disease has witnessed a silent revolution. According to the National Academy of Sciences, “It has become clear that many, if not all autoimmune diseases entertain an intimate connection to the bacterial gut flora, a cosmos of trillions of different bacteria, forming diverse consortia distributed along the length of the intestinal tube.”
According to the 2012 study, “Scientists observe that in 2 models of Type 1 Diabetes, changes in the luminal gut wall precede onset of clinical autoimmune diabetes. These changes are most evident in the mucus layer of the large intestine, where they allow translocation of bacteria from the lumen into extraluminal tissues and where they enable activated self-reactive T cells to home in on the pancreatic islets and ultimately destroy the insulin-forming β cells.” Read more from the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of the Sciences of the United States of America.
Medications Play a Part In Eroding the Gut Lining
External stressors that influence microbial residents and have been linked to diabetes are:
- Antibiotic use
- Environmental toxins
- Common prescription medications
A new study, conducted in Denmark, looked at more than 170,500 Danes with type 2 diabetes and a control group of more than 1.3 million. The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocriniology & Metabolism, found that patients treated for type 2 diabetes filled on average 0.8 antibiotic prescriptions per year compared to 0.5 prescriptions per year among controls. The more antibiotics someone took, the more likely they were to have diabetes. Those that filled 2 to 4 prescriptions of antibiotics of any type had a 53% increased risk of having type 2 diabetes than those who filled 0 to 1 prescriptions of antibiotics.
The authors of this study noted that “a number of animal studies have suggested that antibiotics may change glucose and lipid metabolism upon altering the gut bacteria composition of the animal. ‘ But more research is needed to determine whether it was a causal link. “The possibility that antibiotics exposure increases diabetes risk cannot be excluded and deserves further investigation in interventional studies,” the authors wrote.
While scientists are still piecing together the puzzle, so far what they do know is that external stressors like antibiotics, steriods, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory meds (Ibuprofen, Relifen, Naproxen, Celebrax) can do enough damage to the lining of the gut to change its microbial residents. These changes not only affect digestion, but they can also have a systemic, or whole-body effect resulting in development of autoimmune disease, including both types of diabetes.
Our Microbiome – Just How Important Is It?
Interest in the bacteria that we harbor in and on our bodies has been growing, especially since 2008 when the Human Microbiome Project (HMP) was launched. This initiative supports a full-scale investigation into categorizing and cataloguing the different microbial residents that we interact with on a daily basis (called metagenomics).
Most of us know, for example, that the good bacteria in the gut help to digest food and make specific vitamins. However, the more we learn about our own inner microbial garden, the more we discover just how influential this environment is.
- The right gut bacteria can protect and nurture the lining of the digestive tract.
- The wrong bacteria can inflame the digestive tract.
- Like the lungs or the skin, the digestive tract is a barrier system that is meant to protect our body from the external environment.
Our Microbiome is the relationship that exists between all elements of the digestive tract: the bacteria, fungi, mucus, and cells that line the intestinal wall, and even cells that belong to the immune system.
When the lining of the digestive tract becomes permeable or leaky, this means that several things are happening all at once:
- The protective mucus that lines the digestive tract is thin and worn down.
- Beneficial bacteria are not thriving.
- Inflammation is at an all-time high, triggering an alarm inflammatory response throughout the whole body.
- The barrier system is not intact. This means that food particles and chemicals are able to leak into the bloodstream.
The most recent data available on gut bacteria and diabetes addresses Type 1 Diabetes. Previous research had already made the connection between a poorly maintained lining in the intestinal tract and Type 2 Diabetes.
Type 1 Diabetes is understood to be an autoimmune disease. In autoimmunity, the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own cells. This generates cell and tissue damage.
What is the root of autoimmunity? Some physicians and scientists claim it can be found in the gut. In other words, gut permeability is a common factor in many autoimmune conditions. This means that once again, inner ecology is key to optimal health.
Nurture Your Microbiome to Restore Balance
When we are talking about diabetes and autoimmunity, there are two points to remember:
1. The immune system can be brought back into balance: An autoimmune disease is often found in the company of other autoimmune conditions. This is because once the body loses the ability to distinguish self from non-self, collateral damage can become widespread.
Because the basis of this misfiring is brought on by imbalance, it dissolves once balance is restored to the microbiome and the immune system recalibrates to a normal health response. That’s the good news.
2. Insulin does not address the underlying autoimmune confusion: In the case of Type 1 and sometimes Type 2 Diabetes, the immune system attacks the gland that makes insulin. Insulin is what helps our body regulate blood sugar levels. When the body is unable to produce insulin, blood sugar levels go dangerously unregulated.
Even though diabetes is treated with insulin, the autoimmunity remains. Insulin does not address the underlying autoimmune confusion.
How to Bring the Immune System Back into Balance and Reduce Autoimmune Confusion
- Normalize the Bowel
- Remove overgrowth of candida yeast, mold and fungus from the body.
- Rebuild the integrity of mucousal linings including the GI tract.
- Restore a robust population of friendly bacteria to re-inhabit these permeable membranes providing protection against further harm.
- Avoid foods that may cause autoimmune reactions. (5 most common are sugars, dairy products, wheat (gluten), corn and soy products. Citrus and nightshade vegetables may also be triggers.
- Support the body with a plant-based diet, teaming with fresh and steamed vegetables, healthy fats, non-gluten grains, and clean meat as a condiment.
The Wrap Up
Research has discovered a link between diabetes, intestinal permeability, and gut bacteria. Recent science demonstrates that changes in the microflora in your digestive tract precede development of diabetes. Other factors that have been linked to diabetes in the literature include environmental toxins, antibiotic use, and common prescription medications.
Good bacteria in the gut can help to digest food and provide us with essential vitamins. Unhealthy bacteria in the gut can cause inflammation that will spread to the whole body.
The good news is, everything is figure-outable, including leaky gut and diabetes. By focusing solely on healing the increased permeability of the bowel the autoimmune response lifts and blood sugars return to normal.
Diabetes, Joint Pain and Congestion
I’ve been using the Reboot protocol for one month and have felt much better. Great things I’ve noticed so far are that I’m sleeping better-not taking benadryl every night and I have less constipation. My fasting blood sugar before the cleanse was 119 and 148 postprandial. Now, it’s between 73 and 90. My blood sugar looks so much better and that is a miracle. I feel more energy returning to me and am able to start running again because, so far, no more joint pain. My sugar cravings have also been better. Next time I think I’ll try Reboot while cutting out sugar and see how much farther I can go. Thanks so much! — Jen Nye, RN Zillah, WA
Diabetes, Muscle Cramps and Burning Feet
“I’ve been on the Reboot for 18 days and am so glad it stopped the gas. I’m even having 2 bowel movements a day, which hasn’t happened in a long time. My blood sugars are improving, with one day in the 80’s. The best part of all is that I’ve not felt any burning on the bottoms of my feet, which I have had for the last 2 years (whenever I’m on them for more than a couple hrs). I am also delighted that the cramping in my calf muscles so far is gone. I am 87 years old and am looking forward to going out walking again or maybe even riding my bike!, which I have not done for about 4 years due to the muscle cramps. I am pleased with the results so far.” — Evelyn Haines, Utah Valley, UT