Recently, I told you about the growing evidence that antibiotics can lead to insulin resistance and diabetes by messing with the delicate balance of our gut microbiomes.
And we already know that antibiotic overuse has helped to create armies of antibiotic resistant bacteria that are living in our guts and refusing to die, turning otherwise treatable illnesses into serious and sometimes fatal conditions.
Now, some exciting research is shedding light on a natural, healthy and tasty prebiotic food… the mushroom
If the mushroom’s only “gold star” was that it benefited your immunity… or helped lower blood pressure… or fought inflammation, it would still be a superior natural remedy, right?
But mushrooms can do much more, including helping to balance your gut bacteria. And, in doing so, just might prevent diabetes altogether…
Your gut’s connection to diabetes
Metabolic syndrome is a constellation of health factors that increase our chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and yes, diabetes. These factors include carrying extra weight around the midsection, high blood pressure and high fasting blood sugar levels.
Our gut bacteria have a lot to do with metabolic syndrome. Research has already shown that people with prediabetes often have an imbalanced gut microbiome, replete with harmful bacteria in their gut lining. Fiber and fermented foods have been shown to balance the gut by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Prebiotic foods including peas, leeks, onions, cashews and beets are proven to help balance gut bacteria and head off metabolic syndrome.
But there’s one prebiotic food that can do more than just balance the gut. It’s beginning to look like this humble edible fungus can actually prevent diabetes by having a direct effect on the way the body handles glucose.
Portabellas help process glucose
A 2014 study conducted at the University of Buffalo found evidence that one particular type of mushroom can actually improve the way our body handles glucose.
Dr. Peter Horvath and his colleagues found that, for women in particular, Portabella mushrooms consumed with other food can reduce spikes in blood sugar following meals.
Study subjects were eight men and ten women ages 19 to 29. They consumed either a glucose drink, a glucose drink with Portabella powder or Portabella powder in Stevia-sweetened water.
The results suggested that mushroom powder may help control the blood sugar swings that can occur after a meal, particularly in those with prediabetes.
Button mushrooms act as prebiotics
Researchers have found that feeding mice a daily portion of white button mushrooms boosts their level of gut bacteria.
But not just any gut bacteria. Eating mushrooms increased levels of Prevotella, which in turn produces the acids propionate and succinate. These acids play a role in the expression of genes that control glucose production.
In other words, the mushrooms acted as a prebiotic that encouraged the growth of beneficial bacteria. In this case, the benefit is better control of blood sugar.
At this stage, the researchers have only worked with lean mice. They hope to repeat this experiment with obese mice, and with humans.
But Professor Margherita Cantorna, author of the study, notes, “Any change you make to the diet, changes the microbiota.”
4 more reasons to eat mushrooms if you’re diabetic
- Diabetes is linked with increased inflammation in the body, and mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties.
- Mushrooms have a low glycemic index. They are low in carbs and therefore do not raise blood sugar dramatically. They make a great snack!
- Managing your weight is crucial for keeping blood sugar under control. Mushrooms are low in calories but high in fiber and water that help keep you full longer.
- Fresh mushrooms have soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber has been shown to help control blood sugar levels.
How to enjoy mushrooms
Mushrooms are probably one of the most versatile foods out there. Enjoy them in salads, as a snack, in omelets, on steak or fish…the possibilities are really endless!
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