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Taking Probiotics May Influence Insulin Resistance

  • June 29, 2015

According to a study published in February 2015, probiotic supplements support insulin sensitivity after over-eating. Low insulin sensitivity, or insulin resistance, is a condition that requires large amounts of insulin to keep blood glucose stable. The results of the study suggest that probiotic supplementation may help prevent diet-induced metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.

Just in case you’re not completely familiar with all of the medical and scientific jargon in the previous paragraph, let’s answer a few questions.

First, what exactly is insulin? Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that allows your body to take sugar (glucose) from carbohydrates in the food and turn it into energy or to store glucose for use in the future. Insulin prevents your blood sugar level from getting too high—hyperglycemia—or too low, hypoglycemia. Your body’s cells need sugar for energy. However, sugar cannot go directly into most of your cells. After you eat, your blood sugar level rises and the beta cells in your pancreas are signaled to release insulin into your bloodstream. Insulin attaches to and signals cells to absorb sugar from the bloodstream.

Secondly, what are probiotics? Your body is full of bacteria, some good and some bad. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are good for your health, especially your digestive system. Probiotics exist naturally in your body, but they can also be found in some foods or taken as supplements. Probiotics help move food through your gut, and they can also help maintain a healthy balance between the good and bad bacteria in your body.

Finally, what is type 2 diabetes? People who have type 2 diabetes make insulin. However, either their pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin or their bodies cannot use the insulin well enough. This is called insulin resistance.

And now back to the study… The investigators randomly assigned 17 subjects to consume a fermented milk drink supplemented with probiotics twice each day for four weeks, or no supplementation for the control group. Subjects maintained their normal diets for three weeks and then ate a high-fat, high-energy diet for one week. The results showed that the group ingesting supplemented probiotics were able to maintain normal insulin sensitivity before and after the week of over-eating. The control group, however, had a 10 percent increase of glucose and a 27 percent decrease in whole-body insulin sensitivity. Thus, probiotic supplementation may help prevent diet-induced metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.