New research has found an insulin-sensitive bacterial species in our microbiome. It is a gut bacterium that has the ability to improve glucose tolerance, so it may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The ID agency noted that the bacterium in question is a producer of butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that serves as an energy source for the microorganisms that live in our intestines. However, on a nutritional level, it has significant metabolic and anti-inflammatory benefits. One of them appears to be the ability to metabolize glucose.
The Cedars-Sinai team in charge of this study confirmed that patients with prediabetes had significantly lower levels of butyrate bacteria than healthy people. Therefore, there may be a connection between butyrate and healthy blood sugar levels.
Previous studies already suggested how important the presence of butyrate-producing bacteria is in a healthy microbiome, that is, non-hyperglycemic. However, this is the first time that a type of bacteria has been identified that may prevent or treat type 2 diabetes.
Everything indicates that there are 36 different strains of butyrate-producing bacteria, and five of them are associated with increased insulin sensitivity: Coprococcus etes, Oscillibacter sp. CAG 241, Alistipes finegoldi and Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
What these bacteria do is improve metabolism by producing butyrate, which is then absorbed by the liver.
Butyrate has recently been linked to healthy aging, and is suspected of protecting against autoimmune diseases. This acid is produced by the fermentation of carbohydrates in the colon, and is considered postbiotic. In short, a molecule with beneficial properties for health is formed in the intestinal microbiome.
So it may be an essential substance for stabilizing blood sugar.
Can Butyrate Prevent Diabetes?
Researchers believe that the butyrate produced by this group of bacteria may prevent type 2 diabetes, which occurs when glucose builds up in the blood from malfunctioning insulin. However, they do not plan to administer any butyrate probiotic cocktail yet to demonstrate this. The main reason for this is that only five out of 36 bacteria have been shown to be beneficial to health.
In addition, two butyrate-producing species, Flavonifractor plutii and Anaerostipes cacae, paradoxically seem to increase the risk of developing some types of diabetes.
The researchers believe that these two samples may contain genes that counteract the beneficial effects of butyrate or feed on harmful metabolites.
However, regardless of the cause, it is a fact that both negatively affect metabolism. Therefore, until it is proven which bacteria of this group prevent diabetes and which promote it, no microbial cocktail will be created.
“As for the idea of taking probiotics, it’s going to be somewhat experimental right now. We need more research in the next five years to identify the bacteria to prevent or treat diabetes.”
To do this, the Cedars-Sinai team recruited 350 non-diabetic participants with the aim of evaluating the relationship between their microbiome and glucose tolerance.
The project, named MILES (Microbiome and Insulin Longitudinal Assessment Study), will run for about two years. So we expect their result in 2025. However, so far it is a fact that certain bacteria in the gut can prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.