Researchers are learning more and more every year about how the gut (also known as the digestive tract) plays a major role in health and disease, including diabetes.
The trillions of microbes (bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other organisms) found in the gut help us to digest food. These microbes also protect our immune system. And when you put all of them together, we have what we call the microbiome.”
Your overall physical and mental health is directly tied to the health of your microbiome. So, what can you do to protect our microbiome and keep all those organisms nice and healthy if you have diabetes?
Here’s 7 ways to keep your gut healthy when you have diabetes…
Manage blood sugars
Managing your blood sugar levels by choosing foods with fat, fiber, and protein is very important. Elevated blood sugars are believed to disrupt our gut bacteria in some way and thus can increase the risk for infections and illness.
Only take antibiotics when needed
Don’t take antibiotics unless you need them. Antibiotics wipe out bad bacteria in the gut, but they also wipe out good bacteria. So, make sure to talk to your doctor and determine if an antibiotic or other medication is truly needed.
Eat probiotic-rich foods
Eating probiotic-rich foods is a great way to help replenish the good bacteria” in your digestive tract. You get the most benefit from consuming them consistently over time. Kefir is great for adding probiotics to your day, and each cup contains 11g of protein. But, you may be wondering about the sugar content of kefir. And, that’s a totally valid concern when managing diabetes. But, rest assured, kefir is actually a great way to get those probiotics in and manage your diabetes. Because kefir also contains protein and fat, the likelihood of a blood sugar spike is very small. They both (fat and protein) slow down how quickly your body absorbs the sugar from kefir and creates a nice steady blood sugar response.
I love enjoying a glass of the blood orange flavor mid-morning for the perfect pick me up! I mix 4oz plain Lifeway Kefir and 4oz of the blood orange flavor… so good!
And, some research has shown that people who consume kefir daily have lower HgbA1c levels compared to those who do not drink kefir.
Don’t forget about prebiotic fiber
Get your pre-biotic fiber in too! Just like we need to add good bacteria (probiotics) to our gut, we also need to feed those good bacteria with prebiotic fiber. Prebiotic fiber can be found in plant foods like Bananas, Apples, Oats, Flaxseed, legumes, garlic, onions, and more.
Eat more plants
Eat more plants in general. In addition to prebiotic fiber, a diet rich in a wide variety of plant-based foods is associated with a healthy gut. And the great part about this too is that we know
from research that this doesn’t have to mean adopting a completely vegan or vegetarian diet. You can still enjoy your favorite animal foods while prioritizing plant-based foods as well.
Move your body more
Move your body in some way each day! And this doesn’t have to be a trip to the gym. It can be anything you enjoy doing. Research has shown that consistent movement or exercise is helpful in maintaining a healthy GI tract and a healthy immune system.
Manage stress levels
Manage your stress levels as best you can. Think about the last time you went through a mentally or emotionally stressful time. Usually, your tummy is the first organ to feel the effects. Many people experience uncomfortable physical GI symptoms when they’re experiencing mental or emotional stress. Further proof that our GI tract is tied to more than just physical health.
Putting it all together
Managing your gut health is a key component of managing diabetes. And, many of the same behavioral strategies we use to manage diabetes (nutrition, exercise, stress management, etc.) also impact gut health.
For more information on managing blood sugars and enjoying tasty and delicious food while living with diabetes, head on over to milkandhoneynutrition.com.
About the Author
“I’m not a fan of rigid food rules at all, but when you have type 1 diabetes (or any other health condition that alters the way you want to eat) you’re forced to analyze everything that goes in your mouth. It is my mission to provide you with headful recipes and resources to help you properly manage your health condition while letting you experience true joy and contentment from the food you’re eating.” – Mary Ellen