(NaturalNews) We've all heard the news about the enormous, world-wide epidemic of type 2 diabetes. Not only is this form of diabetes (which results from the body's inability to effectively use insulin) soaring among adults, it is now hitting children and teens as well. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the cause is primarily excess body weight and weight physical inactivity.
But breakthrough research just published in the journal Nature strongly indicates another, bottom line cause has been discovered - an imbalance of "good" versus "bad" bacteria in the intestinal tract appears to trigger type 2 diabetes.
Sound familiar? Natural health advocates have long insisted that a healthy digestive tract is crucial to preventing and treating diseases and that making sure there's a healthy balance between the "good" bacteria and the disease-promoting kind is key. In recent years, this concept has been backed up by numerous studies linking the overuse of antibiotics, which wipe out the "good" germs in the gut, to serious ills. Researchers have also found that promoting a healthy internal flora rich in the "good" kind of bacteria is beneficial in a myriad of ways - including boosting the immune system to fight flu and treating Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. And research recently published by Austrian scientists in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests an unhealthy balance of gut flora could cause obesity and metabolic syndrome which have long been linked to type 2 diabetes.
"We have demonstrated that people with type 2 diabetes have a high level of pathogens in their intestines," lead researcher for the Nature study, Jun Wang from the University of Copenhagen's Department of Biology and Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, said in a media statement.
The research team pointed out the 1.5 kilograms of bacteria that each of us carries around in our intestines have a huge impact on our well-being. If the equilibrium of what is known as this "microflora" in the gut is disrupted, health can suffer. For their study, the scientists zeroed in on the intestinal bacteria of 345 people from China. The 171 research subjects who had type 2 diabetes were found to have "a more hostile bacterial environment in their intestines" than those not suffering from the disease. The study suggests this kind of out-of-balance gut flora could increase resistance to different medicines as well as likely be the trigger for type 2 diabetes. The scientists identified specific biological indicators in the gut flora that could eventually be used to identify those at risk of type 2 diabetes as well as to diagnose the disease.
"We are going to transplant gut bacteria from people that suffer from type 2 diabetes into mice and examine whether the mice then develop diabetes," another of the lead scientists behind the project, professor Oluf Borbye Pedersen from the University of Copenhagen, stated.
What can you do to keep your internal flora healthy and balanced? For starters, avoid antibiotics as much as possible. Also, eat a healthy diet that includes prebiotics (naturally occurring substances found in thousands of plants species that foster a healthy environment in the colon that's hostile to the "bad" bacteria) and probiotics (the "good" bacteria that is found in fermented foods like kefir, yogurt and sauerkraut that can crowd out bad bacteria and replenish the "good" kind that can be wiped out by antibiotics).
About the author: Sherry Baker is a widely published writer whose work has appeared in Newsweek, Health, the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, Yoga Journal, Optometry, Atlanta, Arthritis Today, Natural Healing Newsletter, OMNI, UCLA''''s "Healthy Years" newsletter, Mount Sinai School of Medicine''''s "Focus on Health Aging" newsletter, the Cleveland Clinic''''s "Men''''s Health Advisor" newsletter and many others.