Over time, our microbiome can lose the strains that help us metabolize food. This can be due to genetic predispositions, changes in diet and exercise, stress, aging, or other factors. Research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes (T2D) are deficient in certain beneficial bacteria. Those bacteria metabolize fiber into useful nutrients and short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. Butyrate initiates the secretion of GLP-1 which promotes insulin secretion. The deficiency noted in people with T2D impedes this process.
Changes to the diet can help diversify the microbiome — especially diets high in fiber. That’s not enough to restore the beneficial bacteria that are deficient in those with T2D. Nor is it enough to restore the functions driven by those bacteria. Using a butyrate supplement isn’t enough as it matters where butyrate production occurs. In a clinical trial, we did show that it may be possible to improve the microbiome of people with T2D who are taking metformin. This is done by adding a targeted blend of prebiotics and probiotics to restore the deficient strains.