Enabling you and your family to heal in mind, body & spirit

How Helping Your Gut May Help Diabetes

How Helping Your Gut May Help Diabetes - Ottawa Holistic Wellness

If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, your physician has hopefully told you to concentrate on healthy eating practices and exercise to help prevent the development, or progression, of the disease.

Odds are you have also heard that considering your the health of your gut bacteria or microbiota may help decrease the risk of contracting or the progression type 2 diabetes.

Maybe you also have learned that it could even reverse the condition as well.

So, what’s the truth?

Your gut microbiota is the collection of bacteria in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract that plays a role in your immunity, your ability to obtain energy from food, and more.

Your microbiota plays an important role in your health and diabetes.

“If you look at diabetes and obesity, over 600 million people in the world are obese, and over 400 million have diabetes. There are multiple factors implicated in both diseases, including genetics, culture, environment, and lifestyle,” says Ruchi Mathur, MD.

“Gut microbes may play one piece of a very large and complicated puzzle, but they’re not the be-all and end-all,” she says.

What Do We Know About The Gut microbiota?

“We know disturbances in the gut microbiota affect almost all conditions we observe in medicine. We know people living with diabetes may have a different gut microbiota than others,” says Eugene Yen, MD.

“However, we don’t yet know if you can manipulate or fix your microbiota to alter or reverse the development of the disease,” he adds.

However, there is some early evidence that altering the microbiota may help diabetes.

In a study published in October 2012 in the journal Gastroenterology, people who were obese or had metabolic syndrome and received faecal microbiota transplants from lean and skinny subjects saw their insulin resistance improve.

A faecal microbiota transplant (FMT) is a treatment that transfers stool from one person into the GI tract of another.

Medical trials using FMT are ongoing, and they may pave the way for future diabetes treatments.

However, for now, FMT’s for metabolic disease or diabetes are not standard medical practice.

“We don’t know what we need to change in someone to help improve their diabetes,” says Yen.

What Do We Understand and Don’t Understand?

“The ideal gut environment is one that’s packed with diverse and redundant microbes”, says Dr. Mathur.

“Redundancy” is the capacity for different species of bacteria to take on the same functions. Thus if one gets eradicated, the other species can then take over.

“Diabetes is associated with less diversity and less redundancy in the gut microbiota,” says Mathur, who co-authored a review published in October 2015 in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice that looked at the role gut bacteria play in weight gain and insulin resistance.

“We also do not clearly understand the relationship between diabetes and gut microbiota. It could be that a disrupted gut microbiota causes diseases to develop, or that diabetes alters the microbiome, or they may share a different common factor”, says Jill Weisenberger, RDN, CDE.

“This is too new to have definitive answers. As a practitioner, I say that gut bacteria might influence insulin resistance. It may also impact obesity, which influences insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes,” she adds.

Understanding that they are connected, but not how to fix it, is frustrating, to say the least.

But it does not leave you powerless.

What Can You Do To Help Type 2 Diabetes?

“Oral probiotic supplements haven’t turned out to be the sure-fire cure yet, but research is underway to see which strains might be beneficial in certain disease states”, says Mathur.

“There is not a single probiotic out there that has been shown to change the microbiota durably,” adds Yen.

Likewise, with food sources of probiotics, there is not sufficient proof to suggest which bacterial strains and in what amount may help improve any particular disease.

However, despite this lack of evidence, including these foods regularly in your diet may lead to better health.

Not sure which foods contain probiotics to choose? Yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, raw sauerkraut and kimchi are all excellent sources of probiotics.

“Something that also may make a difference is avoiding taking unnecessary courses of antibiotics, which alter the bacterial balance in your gut”, says Mathur.

Adopting a plant-based diet may also improve the health of your gut bacteria. This diet does not mean you give up animal protein but think about eating a diverse number of plants in a wide range of colours as possible.

“Though we can’t say definitively that the gut microbiota influences diabetes management, we can say that plant-rich diets appear to provide a healthier diversity of bacteria,” says Weisenberger.

Because gut bacteria obtain their nutrients from carbohydrates, it is essential to fill your diet with veggies, whole grains, and legumes that “feed” these bacteria.

These foods have also been called prebiotics.

Onions, garlic, dandelion greens, leeks, asparagus, raw apple cider vinegar, and jicama are especially rich sources of prebiotics.

If you are unsure what to do, try consulting a Holistic Nutritionist, Functional Medicine Practitioner, or Naturopathic Doctor.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.

Please follow and like us:

How to Choose the Right Diet for Type 2 Diabetes

How to Choose the Right Diet for Type 2 Diabetes - Ottawa Holistic Welllness

If you have Type 2 Diabetes, you have probably received conflicting guidance on which diet can help you. While there is not one diet that will work for everyone, there are some changes you can make today that will help.

In this article, I will explain what diets are effective in managing type 2 Diabetes, and how to decide which diet is best for you.

What diets are effective in managing diabetes?

The fact is that many different diet approaches can be useful in treating type 2 diabetes. Studies show that low fat, low carbohydrate ketogenic, and Mediterranean-style diets are all useful for type 2 diabetes.

The most obvious point about all of these diets is that they are all far, far better than the Standard Canadian Diet, which is what the majority of people in this country follow.

For example, if you remove highly refined flour, sugar, industrial seed oils and other foods out of people’s diet, and you substitute that with wholefood, nutrient-dense choices, that is going to exert an enormous difference regardless of the diet.

How to Choose the Right Diet for You.

There is a lot of contention and debate, on the internet, about what diet is the best diet for type 2 diabetes. When you study the data, what you find is that many approaches can be valid. The question of which one is the best fit for you to follow as an individual comes down to your concerns, requirements, and aims. 

Choosing the right diet also comes down to other factors.

A vegan diet is potentially risky over the long term, for many people, because of the potential for nutrient deficiencies without supplementation. Many studies show, for example, that up to 70 to 80 per cent of vegans were lacking in B12, even when they were supplementing.

Does a person feel better on a diet because they have another condition?

Alternatively, does the person have a situation that might contraindicate a particular diet? For example, do they have Hashimoto’s Disease and or adrenal fatigue? Are they pregnant or are they trying to get pregnant or nursing?

The key to success, over the long term for anybody no matter, what condition they are trying to address, is to individualise and customise what they are doing for their circumstances and needs.

You can not figure out the best diet for you by just looking at what other people are doing, or listening to experts who are passionate about a particular approach.

We see a lot of this on the internet, where people state that everybody should do a specific diet whether that is vegan, Paleo, low-carb or keto.

My advice to you is to stay away from anyone who makes that suggestion because I think those people are not honest about what the research says.

Consider working with a Naturopathic doctor, nutritionist, a dietician, or a Functional Medicine practitioner who is well versed with many different approaches. They should also know how to do a full evaluation based on your health history and testing to create an individualised prescription for you.

For example, if you do have type 2 diabetes and you are overweight then according to the research lower-carb, and ketogenic diets may be useful.

Changing your diet is easier to do with guidance, but many people have been able to figure this out just by listening to podcasts and reading books. Although that is not optimal, I think it is legitimate and sometimes the only way forward for some people depending on their resources.

The critical point that I want to get across here is just whether you are working with a practitioner or you are doing it on your own, really be rigorous about it.

Do not accept what you read in a book, or even the healthcare practitioner that you know and trust or respect says will work. Ultimately your body is the final judge and will be the decision-making authority in terms of whether it works or it doesn’t work.

I have seen so many people that have been harmed by standardised diet advice and prescriptions. These people often end up in my clinic a couple of years after they started a program that was not right for them. However, they kept doing it because they were told to do it or it was based on what they had read.


This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Now I’d like to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.

Please follow and like us: