Nutritional science is constantly evolving, and what we knew yesterday can change tomorrow.
For example, previously, type 2 diabetes was strictly a genetic condition. Then simple carbs and sugar were to blame, making it a lifestyle condition.
There is emerging evidence that diabetes may not be a carb condition but a gut health condition affecting our hormones, how we utilize carbs, and how our genes express.
This could be a game changer in treating diabetes. Here’s how!
How Genes and Gut Bacteria Play A Role
Genes can influence how our microbiome expresses; therefore, depending on your genes, there is a potential for type 2 diabetes.
My genetic testing showed I am at an elevated risk for insulin sensitivity, high fasting glucose, and developing type 2 diabetes with low fibre consumption. Since I possess the CT variant of the GLUT2 gene (our sugar preference gene), I’m also at an increased risk of over-consuming sugar, which can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Better understanding my personal profile has made all the difference in my approach to food.
*Click here to learn more about how you can determine your genetic risk factors.
Blood Sugar, Bacteria, and Your Unique Gene Profile
Recent research points to gut bacteria’s potential to dysregulate blood sugar and insulin, and further research indicates our gut bacteria may be the best therapeutic target for treating type 2 diabetes.
Low levels of bifidobacterialongum and Bacteroides vulgatus species have been shown in type 2 diabetes patients that can lead to increased inflammation, making it harder to balance blood sugar and support the liver.
Bifidus bacteria help produce butyrate, which can lower inflammation by increasing T Cells, critical immune function cells.
Many type 2 diabetes patients do not convert glucose to glycogen well without proper liver support. Instead, glucose converts to fat which is then stored in the body as excess weight.
Metformin, a common pharmaceutical drug for type 2 diabetes, can dysregulate our microbiome.
When it comes to blood sugar, we know that what spikes mine may not spike yours. We’re all biologically unique.
Suppose you’re following a low glycemic diet to prevent blood sugar spikes. Even if sweet potato is lower on the glycemic index than white potatoes, you may still get a blood sugar spike. In that case, you may not see the results you’re looking for.
Unfortunately, the glycemic index does not always represent what can spike blood sugar. It can often come down to the individual and their microbiome, not food.
Blood sugar balance is essential for everyone, but it can be especially tough to manage if you have a genetic predisposition for diabetes or blood sugar issues. Your specific genotype can influence how your body processes and metabolizes different nutrients, which in turn affects your blood sugar levels.
This is where epigenetics comes in—by understanding how your genes are expressed, you can finally figure out which foods and diets work best for your body.
For example, if you have a gene that predisposes you to diabetes, following a low-carb diet may help to keep your blood sugar levels in check. However, for others, a more moderate approach may be necessary. Ultimately, knowing your epigenetic profile can help you make more informed choices about your diet and lifestyle and may help you achieve better blood sugar balance.
How Hormones Influence Type 2 Diabetes
Many hormones can influence type 2 diabetes. For simplicity, I’ll highlight just a few big players.
Amylin: Amylin is released with insulin and can decrease glucagon, a hormone secreted by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar, which slows the rate that food empties from the stomach. It limits glucose production by the liver to prevent high blood sugar. This hormone is deficient in type 1 and late-stage type 2 diabetics.
Adrenaline: This hormone signals the liver to produce glucose (sugar) and break down fat. Which will be converted to sugar by the liver, giving us more energy. Adrenaline is our fight-or-flight hormone. Unfortunately, this hormone is called upon too often in our high-stress culture, causing adrenal fatigue and cortisol production.
Cortisol: Excess cortisol can make muscle and fat cells insulin-resistant. Stress and cortisol go hand-in-hand, so if you’re dealing with daily, low-level chronic stress, you may be storing excess fat – which can wreak havoc on your hormones.
Growth Hormone: If too high can lead to insulin resistance. Consider all the foods like conventional meat and dairy that could increase your body’s growth hormone.
What Can We Do?
Considering how vital gut health is, getting to the root cause should be a priority; getting a stool analysis is a significant first step. A stool sample can detect pathogenic microorganisms like yeast, parasites, and harmful bacteria, giving you the information you need to achieve gut health. Or it can simply identify the ratio of good bacteria to harmful bacteria – which is essential to gut health and preventing type II diabetes.
Other ways to improve gut and hormone balance:
- Take a full-spectrum probiotic with at least 15 strains
- Eat fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, or carrots which helps to feed good gut bacteria
- Increase fibre consumption which is the food of healthy bacteria
- Eat an apple a day for liver support
- Consider de-stressing with exercise, meditation, or psychotherapy
When in doubt, get tested. Start with a stool analysis to get a baseline.
Hormone tests like the DUTCH test are essential for getting a complete picture of your hormones.
Genetic testing is an excellent foundation from which to build when it comes to personalized health. After all, it’s the only true blueprint of YOU!