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Metabolic Syndrome & Type II Diabetes: Part 4

fruit and vegetables


Altered Gut Flora

When we look at the research, obesity and type II diabetes are very closely associated with intestinal dysbiosis. Type II diabetics have an altered gut flora and the types of changes that we see in the lining that can alter production of GLP-1, which I discussed in part 3 of this series.  The helpful bifido bacterium tends to decrease in the Type II diabetic and so do the bacteroides. There is a class of bacterium called fermicute which increases.

The Consequences of Altered Gut Flora

one of the consequences is that these organisms have a better ability to produce energy from non-digestible sources, so for patients that are obese or diabetic and they’ve got too much of these fermicute organisms in their large intestine they can eat a 2000 calorie diet but they can extract 2150 calories out of that food. That is the same as eating another whole days worth of food every two weeks. If you look at it over a years’ time it amounts to 9 – 10 lbs. of additional fat.  So often patients tell me that they are following the dietary recommendations and they are doing all that has been recommended and they are exercising but they continue to put on weight it is because of these changes in the bowel flora. One of the features of dysbiosis when you have a decrease in the bifido organisms is a decrease in the production of short chain fatty acid, which the bifido bacterium produces. Those short chain fatty acids are the fuel that the L cell uses to stay viable and healthy.  In the dysbiotic state L cells do not produce enough GLP – 1 and this is tightly associated with Type II diabetes.


There is another hormone that is produced by the L cells called GLP – 2. GLP – 2 produces the proteins that hold the cells together at the brush border. So with poor L cell health less GLP – 2 will be produced resulting in leaky gut syndrome. This is where the lining is not bound tightly and allows unwanted substances through and into the blood stream. Some of these unwanted substances are toxins from the food and from bacterial metabolism and the bacteria and bacteroid related substances. This can result in a systemic inflammatory response and that systemic inflammatory response is a separate reason why patients develop insulin insensitivity and insulin resistance in muscles.

The lipopolysaccharides that get across a leaky gut activate macrophages that are resident in that gastrointestinal tissue and they release inflammatory mediators that become systemic. We then see a systemic feature of the metabolic syndrome such as insulin resistance and atherosclerosis. One of the main points that I am trying to make here is that there are other factors in the equation that are usually not considered when seeking help for metabolic syndromes such as Type II diabetes and other challenges with blood sugar metabolism.

Just for a quick review:

  • Bitter stimulation of hormone receptors lining the entire alimentary tract is vital in the regulation of insulin and glucagon. More bitter greens and gentian as an herbal should be a regular part of the diet.
  • Using the herbal Gymnema to increase production GLP -1 in the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract is proven to be helpful.
  • Resolving dysbiosis also becomes of paramount importance. Getting the bifido organisms back to their normal levels so the L cells can become healthy again is key. This results in increased production of GLP -1. This has all of the trophic benefits to the pancreas that we discussed and will increase the GLP-2 that will help the gut lining get healthy by making those brush boarder junctions tighter thus reducing leaky gut syndrome.


Some studies have shown an association with the use of pre-biotics and proper floral growth. A pre-biotic is a non-digestible food that confers health benefits to the human by selective stimulation of the growth and activity of the beneficial flora in our gut. Many vegetable and herbals are useful pre-biotics such as inulin, broccoli, Jerusalem artichoke, whole food fiber, slippery elm and more.

There is an association with improvement of gut flora health and pre-biotic feeding.

When we get the gut healthy again we solve endocrine hormone sensitivity and resistance. This is difficult to achieve clinically but worth the effort. I usually use the Medi-Herb product Gut Flora Complex and the Standard Process products Inulin, and Prosynbiotic. I usually do this over a six week period for good results.

Seek a Professional for Help Today

There are many other issues that need to be considered when attempting to restore proper gut health and that is why a skilled herbalist and nutritionist on your health team is a great idea.  Metabolic syndrome and Type II diabetes are conditions that the typical patient I see has been working on for years. The negative impact of dietary deficiencies combined with long term intake of toxins that are associated with nutritionally deficient foods cannot be undone overnight. If you or a loved one is in pursuit of health and healing in this regard, be sure to arrive with plenty of patience and an open mind to discovering all that can be done. You’ll be glad you did because these are the kinds of changes that result in more life and better quality of life. It has been my pleasure bringing you this series and it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the great leadership and mentoring of one of my favorites, Lee Carroll who is by far a leading authority in the field of herbal healing.

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