Why probiotics are important for diabetics! And by the way, not all are made equal.

By now I hope most of you have learned about the importance of maintaining an optimal state of bacteria in your gut. Through clinical practice, we are learning more and more about the link between these strains of bacteria and chronic illness. When it comes to diabetes, two of the biggest systems that are involved in the regulation of blood sugar is your immune system and gastrointestinal system. Probiotic bacteria have a direct effect on both of them. Let us look into that a littler more.

Wit regards to the gut, the need to maintain proper digestive function is a cornerstone for blood sugar regulation. When things are working properly in the gastrointestinal system, the production (if type II and not on insulin) and use of insulin is very efficient. As the digestive system becomes overwhelmed due to side effects of elevated blood sugar creating digestive neuropathic dysfunction (due to neuropathy, see my blog post here to read more), increased symptoms start to occur. The most common symptoms that people will feel can include gas, bloating, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation and general indigestion feelings. As the digestive system becomes more challenged, it becomes a viscous process that further contributes to a state of dysglycemia (both high and low blood sugar readings). The unfortunate part is that in the medical community, we do not take the time to discuss the reason these digestive disturbances are occurring. Thus people will reach for over-the-counter medications to improve symptoms and this only exacerbates the issue and creates more problems down the road.

With regards to the immune system, about 80% of your immune system tissue is found in the gastrointestinal system (the term for this is GALT- gut associated lymphatic tissue). The bacteria in your digestive system contributes significantly to the health of the immune system. When the bacteria starts to become compromised, immune system function lowers. This creates more inflammation in the body leading to more dysglycemic states.

Your proboitic bacteria are very important and if you are dealing with a chronic illness such as diabetes, there is almost a life long need to supplement with this beneficial natural therapeutic. Typically, you would get this bacteria from your food and it would make its way down into the digestive tract and begin to populate itself. In order for the bacteria to grow and flourish, the environment has to be optimal. You need optimal pH (diabetics tend to be more acidic), optimal pre-biotics (this is the food substrate that feed pro-biotic bacteria), optimal blood flow (which we know circulation is compromised in the diabetic individual) and optimal nervous system stimulation (remember that all diabetics have some state of neuropathy). All of these variables are significantly affected when diabetes is occurring in one’s body. When we supplement with the bacteria, it mostly becomes a numbers game with an effort to drop large quantities of bacteria into the digestive system with a hope that they will populate the GI tract. But please remember that you also need to continue to work on creating an optimal environment for those little buggies. This is where nutrition, detoxification and stress management come into play because these are topics that have to be addressed to allow those little buggies to do there thing.

When it comes to probiotics (and really supplements in general), please remember that not all are created equally. The best analogy I can give is when comparing power tools (hopefully you have had to use one recently and you can relate to this analogy). When you go and by a drill, there is a brand called Black & Decker and then there is a brand called DeWalt. Now while both of these drills look pretty much the same and have a lot of the same specifications on them, once you get into your project you will begin to notice a significant difference in quality and efficiency between the two drills. The DeWalt drill will out perform the Black & Decker every time, over time. That being said, it is better for you to use some tools rather than no tools at all. The brand of probiotcs that I recommend is the HMF series by Genestra.

Please remember to take care of yourself and do not settle for the fact that you just have to live with diabetes.

Dr.Buttler, educating people about diabetes in the Milwaukie and Portland areas.

Naturopathic physician who is educating people about their health in order to empower them to practice self care.