New research supports the need to make dietary modifications to achieve optimal blood glucose control. In addition to reducing sugar intake, incorporating dietary fiber has long been accepted as one of the positive steps in making the necessary lifestyle changes against chronic diseases like diabetes. Colonies of human digestive tract–associated bacteria, or “microbes,” are referred to as the gut microbiome. The role of the gut microbiome in both illness and health promotion has been the focus of earlier research associating gut flora imbalances with not only bowel disease, but also obesity and type 2 diabetes (T2DM).

A study conducted by Liping Zhao, lead author and a professor at Rutgers University-New Brunswick in New Jersey, published in March in Science evaluated the impact of fiber-rich diets. The research, a randomized clinical study of specifically designed diets, evaluated bacterial diversity and demonstrated that high-fiber diets promoted growth of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). SCFAs influence signal pathways that control inflammation and hunger, and the high-fiber diets were also associated with lower acetylated hemoglobin and higher glucagon-like peptide-1 values.  

Dr. Zhao’s work focused on understanding the relationship between a fiber-rich diet and gut flora that promoted symptom reduction. The team noted that further research could support developing specific diets to control diabetes. Using a planned, targeted replenishment of good gut SCFA represents a novel intervention for the management of T2DM and supports the need for continued investigation of the role of gut microbiome.

“Our study lays the foundation and opens the possibility that fibers targeting this group of gut bacteria could eventually become a major part of your diet and your treatment,” said Zhao.

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