If you are a person living with diabetes, it can be difficult to figure out exactly what foods keep your blood sugar levels in check. While there are myriad beneficial foods for diabetics, it is often wise to take a look at the bigger picture, i.e. your entire diet, and assess what changes need to be made.
Everything that you put in your body should be of great importance, no matter if you are living with diabetes or not. Roughly 100 million American adults are currently living with diabetes or pre-diabetes, and this number is only on the rise. Having diabetes exponentially increases the risk of kidney failure, stroke, heart disease, amputation of toes, vision loss, or premature death. All of this is to say that finding ways to efficiently manage blood sugar levels is more important now than ever before.
Recently, a study revealed that understanding how individualized diets can impact the gut microbiome may be the best way to control blood sugar levels. To clarify, the microbiome refers to the trillions of bacteria that live in the body. The study followed 300 people for six days. Each person ate a bagel and cream cheese for breakfast and whatever he/she wanted for the rest of the day. The researchers collected stool samples, glycemic responses via blood glucose monitors, and information about exercise frequency and food intake throughout the study.
When considering carbohydrates and calories consumed, researchers were able to predict blood sugar response 32%-40% of the time. However, factoring in age, genetics, and each individual’s gut microbiome, researchers could accurately predict blood glucose responses 62% of the time. That’s a huge number, when you consider the percentage of people living with diabetes.
It is possible that the key to balancing blood sugar lies in the gut, but more research needs to be conducted. What the study did find, however, is that giving blanket nutritional advice for diabetics is an oversimplified approach to helping them manage blood glucose levels. This is because each person responds differently to different foods. One person can eat carbs and feel energized, while another person’s response to a carb-heavy meal is fatigue.
The point of the study was to help change the advice given to diabetics. Cutting calories, losing weight, and eating fewer carbohydrates are the current approaches for controlling blood sugar levels. It seems that this research is indicating that more personalized treatments will be able to better address blood sugar issues. By increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria in the body, a person can experience improved digestion, better immune function, and higher energy levels, in addition to better blood glucose response. To improve your microbiome, read our article about prebiotics here.
With the growing knowledge of using alternative approaches to naturally remedy a variety of conditions, the hope is for people to not listen to general advice. Always remember that an approach that works for one person may not be right for the next person.