Prof. Georges H. Boutros, Hepato Gastroenterologist
Dr. Salah Ezzedine, MD
DIABETES IS AN INCURABLE CHRONIC DISEASE WHICH, IF NEGLECTED, CAN INDUCE SEVERE VISCERAL COMPLICATIONS, SOMETIMES FATAL.
It reflects an abnormality in insulin, which is the principal, if not the exclusive element for the regulation of blood sugar. Secreted by the pancreas, this hormone has an essential function allowing the penetration of glucose in the cells of the organism, providing them with the necessary energy for their metabolism.
THE METABOLIC SYNDROME
The metabolic syndrome is becoming increasingly common.
It associates abdominal obesity and at least two of the following problems:
- Type 2 diabetes or fasting-plasma glucose >110 mg/dl.
- High level of triglycerides
- Low level of HDL-cholesterol
- Arterial hypertension All of these risk factors promote the development of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. In addition, poor cardiorespiratory fitness is an independent and strong predictor of metabolic syndrome in both men and women
Diabetes is a ubiquitous disease on a continuous rise. In 2011, there were 246 million diabetics in the world; one would expect more than 400 million in 2025. In Lebanon, the WHO estimates the risk of diabetes about 13% and states that it may well reach 26% in 2020.
Nowadays, obesity is the second most important health problem. There were 400 million obese people in 2011, and more than 700 million are expected by 2023.
Increased body weight is a major risk factor for metabolic syndrome. This syndrome was present in 5 percent of those at normal weight, 22 percent of those who were overweight, and 60 percent of those who were obese.
The metabolic syndrome has several causes:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Consumption of foods rich in fat and carbohydrates
- Tobacco and alcohol consumption
PROBIOTICS AND MICROBIOTICS
Probiotics are micro-organisms that have beneficial properties for the host, which have the potential to favorably influence the immune system. The intestinal tract is host to a vast ecology of microbes, which are necessary for health.
Our digestive tract is inhabited by a microbial world, called “Microbiote”, excessively rich in bacteria, yeasts, etc. It is dynamic and intelligent. It is our “second brain”. It fulfills several essential functions for the organism, especially in general immunity.
Thanks to new methods of molecular biology and experiments made by instillation of intestinal flora, probiotics now play a major role in the prevention of metabolic syndrome. Several observations and experiments have confirmed this role.
In 2006, an Indian study showed that a yogurt diet enriched with probiotics decreases the risk of diabetes in rats.
Women who take probiotics during pregnancy develop less gestational diabetes. In the same way probiotics decrease abdominal fat and weight in general.
A recent experiment showed a specific improvement of the sensitivity to insulin by prolonged instillation of healthy intestinal flora in the gut of people suffering from metabolic syndrome.
Several probiotic preparations have promised to prevent or treat various conditions. The evolution of our knowledge of probiotics opens the way to develop new therapeutic options for the treatment of diabetes and metabolic syndrome in general.