Gut Microbes and Diabetes

The human body is a host to trillions of microbes, or bacteria. Some of these are helpful while some may be harmful. In order to understand what gut microbes are; we must understand what the human microbiome is. The human microbiota consists of a wide variety of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other single-celled organisms that live in the body specially in our intestine,skin, oral cavity,nasal cavity etc. The microbiome is the name given to all the genes inside the microbial cells.

Now, we are faced with the question of what is a gut microbe? The gut microbiota used to be called the micro-flora of the gut. In 1996, Dr. Rodney Berg, of Louisiana State University’s Microbiology and Immunology department wrote about the gut microbiota, summing up its “profound” importance. He said,

The indigenous gastrointestinal tract micro-flora has profound effects on the anatomical, physiological, and immunological development of the host.

Dr. Rodney Berg

He goes on to say: “The indigenous micro-flora stimulates the host immune system to respond more quickly to pathogen challenge and bacterial antagonism, exhibits colonization of the gastrointestinal tract by overt exogenous pathogens.”

This symbiotic relationship benefits humans, and the presence of this normal flora includes microorganisms that are so present in the environment that can practically be found in all animals from the same habitat.

However, these native microbes also include harmful bacteria that can overcome the body’s defenses that separate them from vital systems and organs. The gut microbiota of each individual is different and unique like our fingerprints. It heavily contributes to how a person fights disease, digests food and even their mood and psychological processes.

Why is the human microbiota important? Microorganisms have evolved alongside humans and form an integral part of life, carrying out a range of vital functions. They play an important role in influencing both health and diseases, like:

  • Asthma 
  • Autism 
  • Cancer
  • Celiac Disease 
  • Colitis 
  • Diabetes 
  • Eczema 
  • Heart Disease 
  • Malnutrition 

The human microbiome has an influence on the following four broad areas of importance to health :

  • Nutrition 
  • Immunity 
  • Behavior 
  • Disease

Apart from absorbing energy from food, gut microbes are essential to helping humans take in nutrients. Gut microbes may also use their metabolic activities to influence food cravings and feelings of being full. From the moment an animal is born, they start building their microbiome. Humans acquire their first microbes from the entrance of their mother’s cervix during birth. The microbiota can affect the brain, which is also involved in digestion. Some have even called the gut microbiota a second brain. Small molecules released by the activity of the gut bacteria trigger the response of nerves in the gastrointestinal tract.

Bacterial populations in the gastrointestinal system have provided insights into gut conditions, including Inflammatory Bowel Disease ( IBD), such as Crohn’s Disease  and Ulcerative Colitis. Low microbial diversity in the gut has been linked to IBD as well as obesity and T2D.

1 in 10 people in the United States have diabetes

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), approximately 1 in 10 people in the United States have diabetes, and one of those, around 90% have type 2 diabetes. The cells of a person with type 2 diabetes are not able to process blood sugar properly, affecting a key way they receive energy. For their study, the researchers took samples from 40 people who had severe obesity. Half of the participants had type 2 diabetes, while the other half showed signs of insulin resistance but did not yet have diabetes. The researchers found that there was a clear difference in the gut microbiome between people with diabetes and people without. In particular, they found that the greatest amount of bacteria was in the liver and the fatty material connecting the stomach and the colon. Both these areas are important for the regulation of metabolism. In these regards a large number of research evidence is pouring in medical literature. Notably there are some consistent trend in research findings. Among the commonly and consistently reported findings, the genera of Bifidobacterium, Bacteroides, Faecalibacterium, Akkermansia and Roseburia were negatively associated with T2D, while the genera of Ruminococcus, Fusobacterium, and Blautia were positively associated with T2D . Lactobacillus genus, while frequently detected and reported, shows the most discrepant results among studies. Interestingly, different macro-metrics of microbial communities, such as several indexes of diversity and the Bacteroidetes/Firmicutes ratio that have been previously suggested as markers of metabolic disease did not show consistent associations with T2D. Bifidobacterium appears to be the most consistently supported by the literature genus containing microbes potentially protective against T2D. The second most commonly reported genus was Bacteroides. Eight studies have reported associations between the abundance of this genus and T2D

While the study’s findings are tentative, they help make clear some areas of research that may be productive going forward. It is believed that Microbiota modulates inflammation, interacts with dietary constituents, affects gut permeability, glucose and lipid metabolism, insulin sensitivity and overall energy homeostasis in the mammalian host . The next research will focus on crystal clear understanding the causal relationship between specific genera of gut bacteria, and pathophyiology of diabetes and obesity ;with the possibility of determining if some bacteria may be helpful in combating diabetes.

Get an answer to all the questions about diabetes in my online course. I will be back again with a new and interesting topic for everyone to discuss. Thank you.

Let me introduce you to the Art of Living with diabetes,a unique training program for every diabetic citizen. Visit to know details

Published by Dr.Pratim Sengupta

Dr. Pratim Sengupta thinks of himself as conscious, living, soulful being with an inner urge to break the inertia of life. He feels that life is nothing but a material expression of the Supreme Almighty Consciousness. His conscious existence empowered him to see, to hear, to talk, to interact, to feel, to dream, to ask questions, and to seek solutions to every problem. In the flow of life, as he grew up, he understood that knowledge of life is the only way to understand the scientific basis of conscious existence. Hence Dr. Sengupta felt the urge to study the science of life – i.e. Medicine. After he completed his higher secondary education from the Ramakrishna Mission Vidyamandira in Belurmath, he joined the MBBS (Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery) course at RG Kar Medical College, Kolkata. The professional packaging of knowledge in terms of a time-bound, goal-oriented syllabus frustrated him a bit, but nevertheless ignited the urge within him to study further. He thus went on to his post-graduation (MD) in Medicine from IPGMER and SSKM Hospital, Kolkata. During his MD training, he got a glimpse of the vastness of knowledge, and the quest to learn precisely the facts of life narrowed down his area of interest to the functioning of the kidneys and the specialisation of Nephrology – a discipline that is complex, yet relatively new and still evolving in terms of complete understanding of renal physiology and pathology. So, Dr. Sengupta decided to study and train for the DM (Doctorate of Medicine) degree in Nephrology. Right from the start of his career, Dr. Sengupta was passionate about Research. During the MD programme he worked on Cirrhotic Cardiomyopathy, Autonomic Neuropathy of Lupus, and Insulin resistance in Diabetics. All these research studies were published in national journals. During his postdoctoral study in Nephrology, he worked on Hemodialysis efficiency, and suggested an angular placement of the Dialyser in order to increase efficiency. This innovative concept was accepted for presentation at the World Congress of Nephrology, Milan, in 2009, and also published in Hemodialysis International. Dr. Sengupta also worked on Plasmapheresis – a blood filtering technique by which toxic and pathogenic immunoglobulins can be removed from the body. He studied the role of Prethymectomy Plasmapheresis in Myasthenia Gravis patients, and his findings were published in the journal Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. The patient-empowered nutritional model for nutritional care of kidney patients is another interesting and innovative area in which Dr. Sengupta has worked for quite a long time. Dr.Pratim Sengupta won the Bharat Jyoti award for his excellency in the field of medicine. He is also the president of our non-governmental organization, The Kidney Care Society. His tireless contribution to provide quality living for his patients is worth mentioning. He introduced Mukti, blending ancient Indian yoga with modern medicine for well being of every patient. He has also introduced an unique online course "Art of Living with diabetes" which is a complete solution to diabetes management. He has authored many books, blogs, for the patients. Searching and researching for solutions to problems in the field of Nephrology remains the passion and dream of Dr. Pratim Sengupta, and he intends to persist on this journey as long as he is conscious. Meanwhile, even as he pursues his dreams, Dr. Sengupta diligently puts into practice all he has learned about Nephrology over the years, at the Belle Vue Clinic in Kolkata and ILS hospital,Dumdum where he is available for his patient

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