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Over the past several years, research into diabetes has found a link between diabetes, intestinal permeability, and gut bacteria. (1) It turns out that the microflora in your digestive tract may play a role in the development of diabetes.
Healthy gut bacteria can nurture the lining of your digestive tract, while harmful bacteria can cause inflammation to spread throughout your whole body - leaving you at risk for serious conditions like diabetes.
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 inner ecology of the mice. (2)
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.
Other previous studies have found that certain external stressors have a similar effect. (3)(4) External stressors that influence microbial residents and have been linked to diabetes are things like:
While scientists are still piecing together the puzzle, so far what they do know is that external stressors can do enough damage to the lining of the gut to change its microbial residents. These changes not only effect digestion, but they can also have a systemic, or whole-body, effect.
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.
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 ecology, the more we discover just how influential this environment is.
What we call our inner ecology 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 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 diabetes. (3)(4)
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. (6)(7)(8) This means that once again, inner ecology is key to optimal health.
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 others. This is because once the body loses the ability to distinguish self from non-self, an imbalance in the immune system has been established.
Because the basis of this misfiring is thought to be an imbalance, this means that the immune system can be brought back into balance.
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.
Research has discovered a link between diabetes, intestinal permeability, and gut bacteria; the microflora in your digestive tract could possibly link to the development of diabetes. Other factors that have been linked to diabetes 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. It's no wonder that researchers have made a connection between a permeable gut lining and the diagnosis of diabetes!
To greatly reduce your risk of diabetes and autoimmunity, you can restore health to your immune system by nurturing your inner ecology with two important steps:
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