Monday, January 17, 2011

Fecal Transplants May Be a Cure For Pre-diabetes

Okay Health Activists, admit it:  there is a definite "ick factor" when you read the title to this post.  I'll bet half of you probably clicked this link just because of curiosity :)

The fact is, insulin resistance/pre-diabetes is one of the fastest growing problems in our nation right now.   Some research I ran into a little while ago may point the direction to a potential treatment, or even a cure for this awful problem.  However, the "cure" may seem even more distasteful than the disease.

Fecal transplants were done in animals and the results were no less than phenomenal - their insulin resistance (sensitivity of the body to insulin) increased substantially when the animals were transplanted with fecal material from healthy non-insulin resistant animals.

Why?  They're not really sure yet.  Could it be transplanted bacteria are missing in the guts of pre-diabetic patients?  If so, why?  The study leaves many questions.

When they tried the transplants on humans, the results were very similar, leading researchers to postulate that they may be onto something really important where diabetes, pre-diabetes and insulin resistance is concerned.  The human subjects who were transplanted with their own fecal samples did not improve their condition.

Much more information is available by clicking onto the link.

In nature, animal young often eat the feces of their parents.  Although humans may look on the practice as extremely icky, it is vital for many of these animals because this is how their guts are populated with the helpful bacteria needed to survive.  The practice lasts only until the animal's gut is properly populated, then it seems to stop.

Photo copyright 2006 Ellen Schnakenberg  ~ES Storms in Africa - black Arabian colt

When the human or animal body loses its sensitivity to insulin, the pancreas must make increasing amounts of the hormone to metabolize sugars that we eat.  Very serious damage often occurs as a result of high levels of sugar and insulin.  Eventually this condition often turns into full blown Type 2 diabetes.  Fortunately the condition can often be treated very simply with diet and exercise.  However, there is definitely a genetic component to the condition as well.  You do not have to be overweight and sedentary to have insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes, and if genetics is part of the mix, diet and exercise may not be enough to keep you from becoming insulin dependent. 

Those of us with chronic illness including autoimmunity and chronic pain conditions like Migraine are often prone to a more sedentary lifestyle.  Where once we were active, our illnesses have left us sitting on the sidelines.  Additionally, our treatments often result in increased weight, compounding the risks for pre-diabetes.  The chance that something as simple as a fecal transplant may be effective is, although quite distasteful as it may seem, still good news for us.  Any treatment beats the health risks of diabetes.

I bring you this news because I think it's useful to our communities to let people know that pre-diabetes is a significant risk for us.  I also bring this news because I want to be sure that everyone knows that there does seem to be some hope for us as well.

That said, not every pre-diabetic person is suffering the condition because of chronic illness.  Some simply are unmotivated to control their health properly, leaving me to wonder... if they were told to get moving and lose weight or they'd be treated by a fecal transplant, do you think they would be more motivated to lose weight and get active to prevent the disease in the first place?  Or do you think they would remain unmotivated despite the thought?   

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