The microbes in your gut can help maintain optimal blood glucose levels, according to a small study from Canada. The study involved people who are following the DASH diet, which is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that’s designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure. This study has found that people who are following this diet and also consumed probiotics- a good bacteria that help keep your gut healthy- had a decrease in several measures of blood sugar levels over a three-month period.
The findings suggest that in the future we can use the addition of probiotics to the DASH diet to help protect against diabetes, said Arjun Pandey, the author of the study and a researcher at the Cambridge Cardiac Care Center in Ontario.
The study placed 80 people with high blood pressure on either the DASH diet or the DASH diet plus probiotic-rich foods. About 15% of the subjects had prediabetes, which means their blood sugar level is higher than the normal, but it isn’t high enough to be considered diabetes. The group of people in the study who included probiotic-rich foods in their diet did so by replacing some components of the DASH diet with probiotic-rich components, says Pandey.
The researchers measured the participant’s hemoglobin AIC, fasting blood sugar levels, and blood pressure before the participants begin the diets and at the ends of the study. According to Pandey, there were no differences in the measurements between the two groups before the diets begin.
But after three months, both groups had similarly lower blood pressure measurements which mean that adding probiotics didn’t cause changes in blood pressure. But adding probiotics appeared to be greatly associated with changes in the participant’s blood sugar measurements, Pandey said.
Over the three month period, the people who have followed only the DASH diet had lowered their hemoglobin AIC, on average, by 3.4 percent. On the other hand, participants who have followed the DASH diet plus probiotics had lowered their hemoglobin AIC, on average, by 8.9 percent. For fasting blood sugar levels, the group that followed the DASH diet plus probiotics, lowered their fasting blood sugar levels by 10.7 percent, on average, compared with an average reduction of 3.3 percent in the group that followed only the DASH diet.
According to Pandey, the possible explanation for how probiotics could lower blood sugar levels is through a compound called butyrate that is produced by certain bacteria in the gut. This compound may play a role in insulin sensitivity when insulin sensitivity is higher, the body can absorb the sugar from the blood more effectively, which result in lowering blood sugar levels.