Scientists have discovered that compounds derived from some bacteria can lower blood sugar levels in obese people with prediabetes, possibly preventing diabetes itself from developing.
Scientists call the bacteria-derived compounds postbiotics. They are not like probiotics, which are whole, live bacteria people take to change the microbial environment of the gut to ward off disease and improve digestion.
Postbiotics instead are beneficial pieces of bacteria cell walls that are easily absorbed by the body, which seem to make insulin work better. Postbiotics can also be derived from disease-causing microbes, say researchers.
Role of insulin
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas that ferries glucose from food into cells to nourish the body.
In people with prediabetes, insulin becomes less effective at its job.
Postbiotics seem to boost the hormone’s effectiveness. At least that’s what researchers at McMaster University in Canada’s Ontario province saw in experiments with obese mice.
Obesity is a risk factor for prediabetes, also known as metabolic syndrome. Other risk factors for metabolic syndrome include high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol.