In an Eating Rut? Diversify Your Diet to Improve Type 2 Diabetes

A lack of diversity in your diet doesn't help if you have type 2 diabetes, according to new research.

A lecture given by Mark Heiman, chief scientific officer at MicroBiome Therapeutics, revealed that about 75 percent of the world's population consumes only five animal species and 12 plant species. This lack of diversity - especially during the last 50 years - could be linked to the rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes and gastrointestinal problems, Heiman said.

The key player in the equation is the GI microbiome, which is the unique ecosystem of bacteria in the GI tract. The microbiome needs diversity from food sources in order to function optimally, regulate hormones and battle disease.

"Like any ecosystem, the one that is most diverse in species is the one that is going to be the healthiest," Heiman said. "In almost every disease state that has been studied so far, the microbiome has lost diversity. There are just a few species that seem to dominate."

Diabetes and microbiome

Heiman discovered that people with type 2 diabetes and prediabetes tend to have a different microbiome profile than people without these conditions.

Using different nutritional therapies, Heiman found the microbiome responded to diversity and allowed diabetics to experience better glucose control, increased satiety, decreased weight gain, constipation relief and other health benefits.

While therapeutic agents - like probiotics or antioxidants - may help improve the microbiome, the research points to the idea that diabetics can improve their symptoms by making dietary changes that support better gut health.

In Heiman's research, he found that of the 12 plant species most commonly eaten, 60 percent of the calories came from rice, corn and wheat - suggesting a plethora of vegetables and other plant-based foods are not making an appearance in our diets as much as they should.

"Think about diets and think about foods you eat," Heiman said. "How can we get more diversity into our diets? And we may think less about fad diets where you eliminate a certain component to your diet."

Source: Institue of Food Technologists
Image courtesy of Suat Eman/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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