Study Confirms Correlation Between Microbiome and Glycemic Response
Several potentially serious diseases including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease, are known to be related to our blood sugar (glucose) levels and how our bodies respond to it. Diet is a key determinant of our glucose levels. Consequently, we must make good food choices to achieve normal glucose levels.
Many studies have speculated that the type of microorganisms in our gut determines how the glucose in our diet is metabolized. Research has also shown that the balance that exists in our gut microbiome impacts our glucose metabolism.
Until now, little has been known about this phenomenon as it has been difficult to measure. Scientists from the Viome Research Institute in Washington recently published their findings in the Journal of Diabetes Therapy. Viome is a testing and research center focused on predicting and preventing chronic diseases through a deeper understanding of a person’s biology at a molecular level. (1)
They used a technique called metatranscriptomics which is a complex science that studies gene profiling of complex microbial communities. They studied 550 people and were able to identify specific features of gut microbes that influence glycemic response. This response refers to the changes in blood glucose after consuming a carbohydrate-containing food.
They observed that each person digested food differently when given identical meals. This resulted in varying glycemic responses based on their gut microbiome. By quantifying the gut microbes, the Viome study has been able to more accurately confirm the relationship between microbes and glucose intake. (1)
Standard Dietary Guidelines
Dietary guidelines for food have traditionally been calculated based on the carbohydrates they contain.
Glycemic Index (GI)
This is based on the carbohydrate content of individual foods ranked from 0-100 with pure sugar being 100. The lower a food’s glycemic index, the slower blood sugar rises after eating that food.
Glycemic Load (GL)
This calculation is obtained by multiplying the quality of carbohydrates in a given food (GI) by the amount of carbohydrate in one serving of that food. This compares the potential of foods containing the same amount of carbohydrates to raise blood glucose.
These universal dietary recommendations may have limitations as they do not take into account the individual differences in a person’s metabolism, genetics, lifestyle, or insulin sensitivity. Also, variables such as the amount of food, time of day, and physical activity affect the glycemic response. (2)
Another study done at the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel monitored the glucose levels of 800 people for one week. They also found high variability in the glycemic response after eating identical meals.
This study also showed that personally tailored dietary meals based on these results significantly improved after-meal glycemic responses and were accompanied by consistent alterations to the gut microbiome. According to the researchers, these results suggested that personalized diets may successfully modify elevated after-meal blood glucose and its metabolic consequences. This could be especially significant in helping to manage glucose-related diseases, particularly diabetes and obesity. (3)