Japanese researchers: Some gut bacteria may protect against diabetes

Researchers in Japan say they have found that a type of intestinal bacteria may protect against the development of diabetes. They say these bacteria may activate insulin, a hormone that helps reduce blood sugar levels.

The group of researchers from the Riken research institute, the University of Tokyo and others published their findings in the science journal Nature.

They surveyed more than 300 adults who were found to be at risk of developing diabetes because of their weight and blood test results.

The researchers examined the types of their gut bacteria, fecal carbohydrates and insulin conditions. They say the results show that insulin works better in people with high levels of certain types of bacteria, including Alistipes.

The team gave Alistipes bacteria to obese mice. It says their blood sugar levels were lowered by more than 20 percent compared to mice that were not given the bacteria.

The researchers believe that Alistipes bacteria help to reduce insulin resistance by actively consuming glucose and other sugars that suppress activity of the hormone.

Team leader Ohno Hiroshi at the Riken Center for Integrative Medical Sciences says there is a possibility that the development of diabetes might be prevented by increasing this type of gut bacteria.