type 1 diabetes

Gut Health Problems May be a Sign of Type 1 Diabetes

Unlike the type 2 version, type 1 diabetes is an even more serious and virtually incurable form of the disease that prevents your body from making the insulin it needs.

What’s more, type 1 diabetes can harm the body’s major organs over the long haul, affecting the kidneys, blood vessels, nerves, heart and eyes. And, it can even make pregnancy risky for Moms and their babies.

For the longest time, medical science has assumed the origins of type 1 diabetes lie in the pancreas. The results of a recent study have led Italian researchers to look elsewhere, speculating that gut health problems may be a sign of type 1 diabetes.

“Our findings indicate the individuals with Type 1 diabetes have an inflammatory signature and microbiome that differ from what we see in people who do not have diabetes or even in those with other autoimmune conditions such as celiac disease,” says Dr. Lorenzo Piemonti of the Diabetes Research Institute at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, according to a press release.

The pancreas or the gut?

Researchers compared samples (via biopsies of the small intestine, but not stool samples) taken from the microbiomes of 54 patients, including 19 type 1 diabetics, 16 healthy controls and 19 additional patients with celiac disease, which can damage the small intestine.

(The connection between type 1 diabetes and celiac disease is a sound one, as up to 11 percent of type 1 diabetics may suffer from celiac disease too, says Dr. Piemonti.)

Overall, patients with type 1 diabetes displayed many more signs of inflammation in the gut’s mucous membrane that were tied to 10 specific genes than those seen in healthy controls or even celiac patients, according to the study appearing in JCEM: The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Additionally, the balance of gut bacteria in type 1 diabetes patients was distinctly different compared to the other groups.

“We don’t know if Type 1 diabetes’ signature effect on the gut is caused by or the result of the body’s own attacks on the pancreas,” Piemonti says. “By exploring this, we may be able to find new ways to treat the disease by targeting the unique gastrointestinal characteristics of individuals with Type 1 diabetes.”

Could probiotics make a difference?

Is it possible that a probiotic could make a difference one day in treating patients with type 1 diabetes?

Based on the results of a 2015 study appearing in Diabetes, Cornell University researchers had great luck with engineering a strain of Lactobacillus (gasseri) they fed to diabetic rats for 90 days.

Over that time, levels of high blood glucose fell as much as 30 percent in diabetic rates receiving this strain of beneficial probiotic bacteria. Even more promising, this probiotic bacteria reduced glucose levels in diabetic rats in the very same way as healthy animals.

Is it possible taking a probiotic with multiple strains of beneficial bacteria like EndoMune Advanced Probiotic could make a difference too?

These results may be just the start of a new way to look at and treat type 1 diabetes by rebalancing the bacteria that live in our guts.

Changes in gut health diversity may be a warning of type 1 diabetes

Recently, we discussed how being “too clean” with antibacterial soaps, disinfectants and antibiotics may leave young people more vulnerable to type 1 diabetes.

Unlike type 2 diabetes, type 1 diabetes typically affects young people, but may also develop in adults. Once known as juvenile diabetes, type 1 diabetes occurs when the body stops producing insulin. This happens when the immune system has attacked the insulin-producing cells in the pancreas, according to the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse.

Researchers from the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the European Union funded Diabimmune Study Group and Massachusetts General Hospital, identified another marker for type 1 diabetes: Decreases in gut microbial diversity, including species of gut bacteria that promote good health, among infants.

Their findings were published in Cell Host & Microbe.

Gut health and inflammation

Scientists analyzed the stool samples of 33 infants from birth to age 3 to find who was more genetically prone to type 1 diabetes.

The few children who developed type 1 diabetes experienced a 25 percent decrease in the number of distinct species of gut microbes a year prior to be diagnosed with the disease.

Additionally, the reduction of bacteria that regulate the children’s guts worsened overall gut health, while increasing the amount of harmful gut bacteria that caused inflammation.

Good gut health remains stable

An interesting aspect of this research stems from what scientists learned over the course of the study about young children whose microbiomes developed normally and did not have type 1 diabetes. The key factor here is stability.

For one, although the species of bacteria in the human gut vary greatly between people, generally the composition of individual microbiomes remains stable over the course of time. Despite this diversity, these species functioned very consistently in the human gut over time and in each person too.

“Whether the bacterial community is very small, as it is in early infancy, or if it’s larger as it is later in life, the community is always serving the same major functions regardless of its composition. No matter which species are present, they encode the same major metabolic pathways, indicating that they’re doing the same jobs,” Dr. Aleksandar Kostic, one of the authors of the study said in a press release.

Understanding which bacterial species are present and absent in the gut microbiomes of young children with type 1 diabetes may help scientists figure out how to slow down the progression of the disease, according to Dr. Ramnik Xavier, who led the study.

“The next progression,” Dr. Xavier said, “is to expand the pool of patients, particularly among Finnish folks who are predisposed to type 1 diabetes than other ethnicities, in order to determine if their environments and the hygiene hypothesis are real factors in the development of this disease.”

As mentioned before, one goal of the Diabimmune project is to identify preventative therapies via probiotics or vaccines, if bacteria can be treated. Certainly, a probiotic like EndoMune Advanced Junior (for kids) with 10 billion colonies of four primary strains of good gut bacteria would be helpful in protecting the diversity of your child’s gut health.

Does “Too Clean” Equal Child’s Diabetes?

Can you be “too clean” for your health? Apparently so, based on our recent warning about antibacterial soaps, toothpastes and cosmetics containing the broad spectrum antimicrobial and synthetic compound triclosan.

Exposure to these harmful chemicals increases the risk that antibiotics will have no effect on whatever disease you’re using them to treat, creating superbugs, a growing worldwide health problem born partly out of convenience.

Mounting research shows that being too clean may raise your child’s risks of Type 1 diabetes, a serious condition in which the body’s own immune system eliminates the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas, and other autoimmune and allergic diseases.

Understanding the hygiene hypothesis

This biological phenomenon, known as the hygiene hypothesis, occurs when the body’s immune response is reversed due to the continuing exposure to antibacterial chemicals, disinfectants, bottled water and antibiotics meant to make our lives easier and cleaner.

The hygiene hypothesis, first proposed by epidemiologist David Stratchan some 25 years ago, concludes that in the quest for cleanliness, people can become “too clean,” thus limiting the body’s ability to develop natural immunities to disease.

Early signs of the hygiene hypothesis were linked to problems with hay fever, eczema and cleanliness. The size of one’s family also mattered: The more siblings that children had, the greater their exposure to “beneficial” germs that helped their bodies develop their immunity to diseases naturally.

The reach of type 1 diabetes

The hygiene hypothesis has been cited as a cause for more serious health problems, from autism to multiple sclerosis, but, more recently, Type 1 diabetes has been linked to it too.

In fact, the rate of autoimmune diseases like Type 1 diabetes has escalated so dramatically, the European Union is funding the Diabimmune project to test the real reach of the hygiene hypothesis.

The numbers tell the story. The rate of Type 1 diabetes in the U.S. (23.7 per 100,000 children) is less than half the rate of Finland (57.6 per 100,000), one of the world’s wealthiest countries, albeit with far less pollution and a longer average life expectancy.

Some scientists believe the lack of exposure of a specific form of gut bacteria to some viral or bacteria infections may be triggering this escalation of Type 1 diabetes.

The health damage Type 1 diabetes can cause when it’s not controlled can be devastating. Among the conditions linked to Type 1 diabetes:

Can probiotics help?

Can probiotics given to children at an early age prevent the harmful effects of the hygiene hypothesis? Maybe.

One goal of the Diabimmune project is to develop preventative therapies through vaccines or probiotics, if it identifies specific bacteria that can be treated.

Some experts believe “the harmless manipulation of the early environment of the gut (and gut-associated immune responses), for example by the use of probiotics, is well within our means,” according to Diapedia, a peer-reviewed database dedicated to diabetes research.

With four different strains of bacteria, no GMOs and some 10 billion bacteria in every dose, the EndoMune Advanced Junior probiotic may be a safe and easy way to help your kids avoid the health problems associated with being “too clean.”

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