Blood Sugar Benefits with Good Bacteria

Each person's digestive tract is home to about 100 trillion bacteria - and that's generally a good thing! Bacteria in the intestines are an essential part of a healthy digestive system, helping to digest food, synthesize essential vitamins and counter infections. However, not all bacteria in the gut are "good" bacteria, which are known as "probiotics".

When the good bacteria are out of balance or overwhelmed by harmful strains of bacteria, the result can be anything from an upset stomach to heartburn, bloating, constipation and generally feeling "out of sorts".

Scientists at Jiangnan University, China have discovered another significant reason for encouraging good bacteria to flourish. Certain probiotics have been found to improve glucose intolerance and lower oxidative stress in sufferers of type-2 diabetes. The results of their findings may be the first step in using good bacteria in the form of probiotic supplements as a primary preventative treatment against diabetes.

Study on Probiotics and Diabetes

The aim of the study was to measure the effects of a particular strain of probiotic bacteria, Lactobacillus casei, on mice suffering from type 2 diabetes brought on by a high fat diet and streptozotocin. After 13 weeks of being given the probiotic supplement, the 32 diabetic mice were measured for oral glucose tolerance; fasting and proprandial blood glucose levels; insulin; glycosylated hemoglobin, and glycogen in the liver along with triglycerides and cholesterol.

The mice that were given the Lactobacillus casei showed a significant improvement in their glucose intolerance, oxidative stress levels, dyslipidemia and immune-regulatory properties compared to the control group. This positive result has opened the way for further clinical trials on humans into the use of Lactobacillus casei as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.

What is Lactobacillus Casei?

Lactobacillus bacteria are found naturally in the mouth and digestive tract. Lactobacillus casei promotes the growth of other flora including lactobacillus acidophilus which produces the enzyme amylase to help digest carbohydrates in the intestine. It is also found in naturally fermented Sicilian green olives.

Lactobacillus casei is commonly used in the production of cheddar cheese and is present in the popular yogurt-type drink sold under the brand names of Yakult, DanActive and Actimel. These products are commonly used to strengthen the body's natural defenses and immune system by increasing the presence of good bacteria in the intestine. Each bottle claims to deliver around 10 billion Lactobacillus casei bacteria per serving.

There are also a few natural probiotic supplements on the market for those interested in adding them to a healthy diet and fitness regimen.

The probiotic strains of Lactobacillus casei are thought to be effective in treating gastrointestinal diseases and preventing diarrhea caused by antibiotics which generally kill both good and bad flora when used as a medical treatment for infection.

Probiotics are also used to reduce hypertension in those with high blood pressure, generally lowering the systolic (top) reading by around 3.56 and the diastolic (lower) reading by 2.38. If the latest study proves that probiotics such as Lactobacillus casei can also reduce insulin intolerance in those at risk of developing, or already suffering from type 2 diabetes, taking daily probiotic supplements may be well worth it.

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