What is the Connection Between Gut Health and Type 2 Diabetes?
Signs to know and tips to consider
By Dan Trecroci
Once upon a time, people with Type 2 diabetes were encouraged to:
- Check A1C
- Get enough exercise
- Lose weight
- Talk to a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES)
That advice is still as important as ever. However, Pendulum Therapeutics encourages you to do one additional thing:
Be mindful of your gut health!
What is gut health?
When you think about your Type 2 diabetes management, it’s possible that you have not thought about gut health.
So what better time than now to tell you that managing Type 2 diabetes has more to do with your gut health than you think.
Now, when we say "gut health" what we specifically mean is “the health of your gut microbiome”—or, the health of the trillions of microorganisms living in your intestines.
Most of these intestinal microorganisms (or “microbes”) are “beneficial bacteria,” which play an important role in maintaining a healthy body.
In recent years, gut health has been linked to many aspects of health.1 A “healthy” gut contains a community of healthy bacteria that help support a healthy immune system.2
The main drivers of gut-health change are shifts in:
- Stomach acid
- Gut immunity, and
- This complex ecosystem of bacteria in your digestive system3
What are the signs of a healthy gut?
How do you know if your gut is healthy?
According to Rosia Parrish, ND, a naturopathic doctor based in Boulder, Colorado, a healthy gut is usually functioning properly when —one to two times daily —you have a bowel movement that is well-formed and easy to pass.4
Dr. Parrish, who shared her opinion with Everyday Health, adds that other signs of a healthy gut include:
- Being free of rectal symptoms like hemorrhoids
- Being free of abdominal symptoms such as gas, bloating, and abdominal pain
What are the signs of an unhealthy gut?
You might have a gut-health problem if you experience persistent:
- Abdominal pain
- Loose stools
- Nausea or vomiting5
When symptoms persist, it may be a sign of an underlying problem that needs medical attention.Abdominal pain and discomfort, bloating, and loose stools are signs of impaired gut health. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms and have Type 2 diabetes, it is important that you raise them/discuss them with your healthcare provider.
How to improve gut health
Looking after the health of your gut and maintaining the right balance of bacteria is essential for physical and mental health.6
There are a number of practices you can include in your daily routine to positively affect your gut (and overall) health. For example:Avoid unnecessarily taking antibiotics
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 30% of antibiotics prescribed in the outpatient setting are unnecessary, meaning that no antibiotic was needed at all.7
Although taking antibiotics to combat bacterial infections is necessary at times, overuse of antibiotics can be damaging to your gut health as they cause major disruptions in your microbiome.8
Regularly exercising may increase both diversity and the amount of beneficial bacteria within the gut microbiome.9
The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults engage in:
- 150 to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or
- 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity10
Get enough sleep
Getting enough good-quality sleep can improve your mood and cognition. It also improves the diversity of bacteria in your gut microbiome.11
Establish healthful sleep habits by going to bed and getting up at the same time each day. Adults each day should get at least 7 hours of sleep.12
Smoking affects gut health by messing with intestinal-microbiome composition.
Research published over a 16-year period found that smoking alters intestinal bacteria by increasing potentially harmful microorganisms and decreasing the levels of beneficial ones.13
Is there a gut-health diet?
To help nourish your gut microbiome, Pendulum Therapeutics’ dietitians also provide personalized, 1-Hour Nutrition Coaching Calls. During the calls, dietitians offer personalized nutrition education based on your needs, and they also provide resources and handouts just for you.
What foods are bad for the gut microbiome?
Processed high-sugar and -fat foods have always been at the root of the Type 2 diabetes epidemic.
You can now add gut health to the list of things made worse by these foods.
“Non-beneficial bacteria can feed off of a high-sugar diet,” says Kristin Neusel. “Typically, when we see a high-sugar, high-fat eating style, it is lacking fiber. This is a recipe for creating dysbiosis [a condition when the gut bacteria become imbalanced] in your gut microbiome.”
Jennifer McManus, RD, LDN, CDCES, says that reducing your intake of processed, high-sugar and -fat foods can contribute to better gut health.
“Also, eating plenty of food higher in fiber—especially soluble fiber—can lead to improvements in your gut health,” says McManus.
Soluble fiber attracts water and turns to gel during digestion. Soluble fiber can be found in:
- Oat bran
- Some fruits and vegetables
Soluble fiber can also be found in psyllium—a common fiber supplement.
In addition to high-sugar/fat foods, fried foods—cooked in saturated- and trans-fat-rich oils—are harder for the body to digest, and may irritate the stomach, causing diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain.
Fried foods may also promote the growth of harmful gut bacteria as well.14
How can you naturally improve gut health?1. Eat probiotic foods
Probiotic foods have live bacteria in them that promote the health or your gut microbiome. Simply eating probiotic-rich foods is one of the easiest ways to naturally improve your gut health.
Clinical studies have shown that consumption of probiotic-containing fermented foods —like yogurt —may create positive changes to the balance of your gut bacteria and improve their metabolic activities.15
Other foods high in probiotics include:
- Apple-cider vinegar
- Fermented pickles
2. Eat foods high in prebiotic fiber
Prebiotics are foods that fuel the healthy bacteria in your gut. Prebiotic foods are usually high in the type of fiber on which your gut bacteria loves to munch,16 and include:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Whole grains
3. Eat foods rich in polyphenols
Polyphenols are plant compounds that act on your gut microbiome by increasing the growth of beneficial bacteria to produce compounds scientifically proven to promote health and wellbeing.17
Polyphenols can also help reduce:
- Blood pressure
- Cholesterol levels, and
- Oxidative stress18
Polyphenol-rich foods include:
- Black currants
- Black and green tea
- Cocoa powder and dark chocolate
- Red wine
4. Consider a probiotic supplement
Adding a probiotic supplement to your diet may be a great way to improve your gut health.
Pendulum Glucose Control was specifically designed to help with the management of Type 2 diabetes. It does this by increasing the production of butyrate and helping to repair the gut lining. Science has shown that these are areas where many people with Type 2 diabetes are deficient.
- Clostridium beijerinckii WB-STR-0005
- Clostridium butyricum WB-STR-0006
- Akkermansia muciniphila WB-STR-0001
- Anaerobutyricum hallii WB-STR-0008
- Bifidobacterium infantis 100
This formulation works by:
- Supporting production of short-chain fatty acids—especially butyrate—via the fermentation of dietary fiber
- Maintaining the intestinal mucin layer, which functions as a barrier blocking the entrance of toxic substances into the bloodstream
Pendulum Therapeutics is so confident PGC will make a positive difference in how you manage your Type 2 diabetes that it will refund your entire purchase if it does not.
What are some good gut-health resources?
When looking for gut-health resources, always look for credentialed, qualified sites that have registered dietitians or qualified credentialed healthcare providers providing sound, scientific advice.
Before you consider any of these gut-health solutions, talk to your healthcare provider.
The FDA has not approved or evaluated these statements. Pendulum products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.
8 Prz Gastroenterol. 2018; 13(2): 85–92.
15 British Journal of Nutrition , Volume 97 , Issue 1 , January 2007 , pp. 126 - 133
18 Front. Nutr., 21 September 2018