Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity: Specific Probiotic Species to Treat????!!!

In my efforts to start off this New Year on a positive note, I am trying to only share good news this week on the Biome Buzz’ Facebook page, and to write only upbeat posts.  I refuse to let 2021 be a repeat of last year!  On that note, I thought this new research out of Oregon State University was absolutely amazing and potentially a huge step forward in finding a natural way to treat obesity and type 2 diabetes.  (Can you believe that metabolic diseases now affect about 23% of adults (18 and over) in the USA?![i]

These researchers theorized that individual members of the gut microbiota, altered by diet, may have a profound effect upon insulin sensitivity and thus, blood glucose levels.[ii]  They used a new data-driven approach called transkingdom network analysis to look at host-microbe interactions while the host consumes a traditional Western diet (high in sugar, unhealthy fats, etc.)  This allowed them the ability to see what individual species might be responsible for metabolic changes in the way a person’s body handles glucose.

They found 4 specific species had major effect:  Lactobacillus johnsonii and Lactobacillus gasseri were “improvers” of glucose metabolism and Romboutsia ilealis and Ruminococcus gnavus were “worseners.”  One of the lead researchers points out that, “The overall indication is that individual types of microbes and/or their interactions, and not community-level dysbiosis, are key players in type 2 diabetes.”[iii]

To test this analysis, the scientists fed mice a Western diet and then gave them either improver probiotics or the worsener species.  Sure enough, the former led to improvements in how the animals metabolized glucose and lipids, and had lower BMIs (body mass index) than the control mice, who did not receive any supplemental bacterial species.  The researchers found correlations in the medical literature from earlier studies done on humans:  more of the improvers meant lower BMIs in people, while more of the worseners meant a higher BMI.  In fact, Romboutsia ilealis was found in more than 80% of people with obesity, which suggests that it may be a pathobiont in those who are overweight. You may remember, from my previous post on this subject, that a pathobiont is a species which is ordinarily a normal commensal but under certain circumstances, it may become a pathogen and cause disease.

To sum up, their work “…provides further support for the hypothesis that variations in abundance of a few key (but not keystone) microbes rather than overall changes of the microbial community might explain microbiota-related damage caused by western diet in T2D [type 2 diabetes].”  Both :  Lactobacillus johnsonii and Lactobacillus gasseri are decreased by consumption of a Western-type diet, and both improve system glucose control.  Thus, they conclude, that it looks promising that type 2 diabetes may be treated by simple supplementation of a targeted probiotic therapy, as opposed to needing to restore the entire gut microbiota.

I have no idea if these brands are any good, but just FYI, it appears you can buy Lactobacillus gasseri  here L. johnsonii  is available here but it is very low potency.  If anyone gives this a shot, I know I would love to hear about your experience!

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[i] https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/metabolic-syndrome/about-metabolic-syndrome

[ii] Rodrigues, R.R., et al. (2021) Transkingdom interactions between Lactobacilli and hepatic mitochondria attenuate western diet-induced diabetes. Nature Communications. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20313-x.

[iii] https://www.news-medical.net/news/20210104/Few-organisms-in-the-gut-microbiome-found-to-play-a-key-role-in-type-2-diabetes.aspx

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