Eating more of dietary fibres that promote a type of gut bacteria may help in the fight against Type 2 diabetes, researchers suggest. Research findings showed that a diversified high fibre diet can promote 15 strains of gut bacteria that produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which provide energy to gut cells, reduce inflammation and help regulate hunger. Previous research had shown that fruits, vegetables and legumes help in production of short-chain fatty acids that are good for the immune system and may help protect against the onset of Type 1 diabetes.
“Our study lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibres targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment,” said lead author Liping Zhao, Professor at the Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
Consuming right dietary fibres may rebalance the gut microbiota, or the ecosystem of bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract that help digest food and are important for overall human health. Promotion of a select group of gut bacteria by a diet high in diverse fibres led to better blood glucose control, greater weight loss and better lipid levels in people with Type 2 diabetes, the researchers said.
For the study, published in the journal Science, the team selected group of SCFA-producing microbes responsible for the positive impact of high-fibre diets on patients with Type 2 diabetes, randomised into two groups. After 12 weeks, patients on the high-fibre diet had greater reduction in a three-month average of blood glucose levels. Their fasting blood glucose levels also dropped faster and they lost more weight.
Zhao then sequenced microbial genes in the patients’ fecal samples, finding that the abundance of certain microbial species over others — as opposed to overall microbial diversity — seemed more closely correlated with health-related changes in the gut microbiota. The scientists identified 15 SCFA-producing strains that were specifically promoted by dietary fibres. These bacteria acted as a guild to augment SCFA production, consequently supporting gut health by out-competing microbes that release compounds hindering effective metabolism.