The human gut is teeming with trillions of microscopic organisms (or microbes) like bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. These microbes create our microbiome, which outnumbers our cells 10 to 1, and can be the driving force behind whole-body health. Microbes digest food, protect the immune system, and create certain vitamins. When the gut is unhealthy, it can result in a myriad of health issues like inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, psoriasis, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and more.
How does the gut affect diabetes?
Factors like genetics, environment, and lifestyle can determine if someone will develop type 2 diabetes, but experts suggest gut health can play a big role as well. In his book The Microbiome Diet, Dr. Raphael Kellman argues that an imbalanced microbiome is the real culprit behind insulin resistance. Because microbes in the gut help convert food into energy, an unhealthy gut can struggle to convert the food we eat and impact insulin sensitivity. In addition to increasing insulin sensitivity and staving off type 2 diabetes, healing your gut can lead to better digestion and nutrient absorption as well.
Four ways to improve gut health
- Avoid taking unnecessary antibiotics. Antibiotics attack the gut’s ecosystem and cripple it in order to protect it from bad bacteria. Antibiotics cannot distinguish between good and bad bacteria, so they end up killing many of the good bacteria which can take the gut up to a year to replenish.
- Eat a diverse range of foods. Eating a diverse range in food like vegetables, legumes, beans, and fruit can help the gut stay healthy. Additionally, foods that are considered prebiotics will help too. Asparagus, onions, garlic, bananas, raspberries, broccoli, and chickpeas are a few prebiotic foods that can help your gut health.
- Eat fermented foods. In addition to eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, eating fermented foods can help improve gut health as well. Fermented foods include foods like yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, and kombucha.
- Take a probiotic supplement. If you eat a healthy diet and are still concerned with your gut health, work with your doctor to determine if you should take probiotic supplements to encourage good bacteria in your gut to flourish.