Probiotics Have Adjunctive Role in Diabetes Care
Nearly a decade ago, microbiome researchers began publishing reports suggesting that bacteria in the intestines play a role in glucose metabolism. Recent studies support that thesis, and provide a basis for use of probiotics as adjunctive treatments for people with type 2 diabetes.
The notion that microflora can affect insulin sensitivity has its roots in a landmark study by Nadja Larsen and colleagues at the University of Copenhagen. The Danish team showed that people with T2D have striking compositional changes in their intestinal flora compared to non-diabetic subjects.
Moreover, they found that the ratio of Bacteroidetes (“bad” bacteria) to Firmicutes (“good” bacteria) significantly correlated with reduced glucose tolerance (Larsen N, et al. PLoS One. 2010 Feb 5;5(2):e9085).
Since then, many groups have explored the use of probiotic supplements to alter the microbial ecosystem to improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism. A number of these studies are turning up positive findings.
Small, Meaningful Changes
In a study published in late 2016, 46 patients with type 2 diabetes who were already on insulin therapy were randomly assigned to receive low-dose or high-dose Lactobacillus reuteri DSM 17938 supplements, or a placebo for 12 weeks. The low-dose probiotic regimen provided 108 colony-forming units (CFU) per day; the high-dose preparation contained 1010 CFU. The patients took the probiotics in addition to standard insulin treatments.
At the end of the study, those on the highest dose of L.reuteri had increases in insulin sensitivity index (ISI) scores, a Continue reading