Sixteen years in the belly – how your gut microbiome could be signalling the onset of type-2 diabetes 16 May 2022 A sixteen-year study conducted in Finland, and involving over five thousand participants, has found links between the presence of certain gut bacteria and the development of type-2 diabetes. The participants who did not live with type 2 diabetes at the beginning of the study were followed in the interest of learning more about the links between gut microbiota, the ‘signatures’ or signs within gut bacteria, and the potential for the prediction of metabolic conditions such as type-2 diabetes. Gut microbiota (also known as gut microbiome) are the trillions of microorganisms, such as bacteria, healthy parasites, and fungi, that live in our digestive systems. In a healthy body, these ‘bugs’ live together peacefully and play an important role in the absorption of key vitamins as well as helping to protect from contaminated food and water. The long-term nature of the study, published in Diabetes Care, enabled the researchers to identify signposts within this gut microbiome that could then predict the development of type-2 diabetes. The researchers found six digestive bacterial groups that were linked to an increased risk of the development of type-2 diabetes. These bacterial groups have previously been linked to type-2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions, and, according to the study’s main author Pande Erawijantari, seem partly linked to dietary habits. Attention to the microbiome has grown in recent years, as its links to the immune system, digestion, and other aspects of the body have been studied in more detail. Diet plays a large part in the cultivation of a healthy gut microbiome, with a meal plan that emphasises fibre, prebiotics, and probiotics a key way to keeping our gut bacteria happy and thriving. If we think of our microbiome as a garden, the food we eat is the fertiliser it needs to perform well. Prebiotics— foods that help feedthe gut bacteria— include alliums (the garlic, onion, and leek family), oats and barley, bananas, apples, and asparagus. Probiotics— foods that help introduce fresh live bacteria into the digestive environment— include live fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, and some types of cheese such as Gouda, fresh mozzarella, cottage cheese, and cheddar. Building upon previous research in this area, the researchers concluded that their findings further supported the links between dietary habits, the gut microbiome, and type-2 diabetes, as well as potentially provide a way in which early signs of type-2 diabetes can be uncovered in the body. The study in full can be found here Key points A long-term study undertaken in Finland has found a link between gut microbiome composition and the development of type 2 diabetes. This link could help improve prediction of type-2 diabetes in adults.The health of your gut microbiome, and the bacteria present within it, is influenced by your diet. Fibre, prebiotics, and probiotics are great things to add into your diet to keep your gut microbiome flourishing. This study supports previous research in the area, as more and more work is done around the links between the gut microbiome and conditions in the rest of the body.