Prebiotics, Probiotics & Diabetes

Grandma Gone Granola™: Simple, Inexpensive Tips for Healthy Living

In response to the probiotics blogs, someone asked if probiotics can help diabetics. As I’ve said before, I’m not a health professional, so I cracked open my health books and clicked on my search engine. And I found that the subject of “probiotics” is closely related to “prebiotics” when it comes to diabetes (and all-around good health).

A Mayo Clinic article defines prebiotics as “nondigestible nutrients that are used as an energy source by certain beneficial bacteria that naturally live in your intestines. …Prebiotics occur naturally in a variety of foods, especially high-fiber foods, including certain fruits, vegetables and grains.”

Bananas, berries, asparagus, garlic, wheat, oatmeal, barley and other whole grains, flaxseed, tomatoes, Jerusalem artichoke, onions, greens and legumes are among the foods that contain prebiotics.

In Eating Prebiotics is Essential for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Howard of Natural News lists benefits of prebiotics, one of which may relate to diabetes: “Pre-biotics encourage bifido bacteria to grow which produce acids which help balance blood sugar levels.”

And studies seem to indicate that intestinal bacteria can be modified through prebiotics and probiotics to improve the health of diabetics. and (article by Stephen Daniells, 12-Feb-2010 Gut microflora and diabetes: Study suggests role for pro-, pre-biotics).

Prescription for Natural Healing and Prescription for Natural Cures authors Balch, Balch and Stengler recommend the following foods for diabetics. “Eat a low-fat, high-fiber diet including plenty of raw fruits and vegetables as well as fresh vegetable juices. This reduces the need for insulin and also lowers the level of fats in the blood. Fiber helps to reduce blood sugar surges.” (PfNH) “Water-soluble fiber, as found in oat bran, beans, nuts, seeds, and apples, helps to balance blood sugar.” (PfNC)

The authors, of course, have much more to say about diabetic diets, but I found the high-fiber emphasis interesting when considered with the above information on prebiotics and probiotics.  Aren’t you glad asparagus is in season? Becky


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