Warning: Taking Antibiotics Can Increase Your Risk Of Type 2 Diabetes
By Angelique Johnson
New research from Denmark shows that the more prescription antibiotics you take per year, the greater your risk for developing type 2 diabetes.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism by co-author Dr. Kristian Hallundbæk Mikkelsen, a doctor at the Center for Diabetes Research at Gentofte Hospital in Denmark.
In the United States, an estimated 29.1 million Americans have diabetes. That’s 9.3% of the population.
90-95% of all cases are type 2 diabetes, making it the most common form of diabetes. Diabetes occurs when the body is unable to use the hormone insulin effectively, causing abnormal blood glucose levels.
Dr. Mikkelsen and the research team wanted to see if there was any correlation between the use of antibiotics and developing type 2 diabetes.
Using records from three health registries in Denmark, they monitored antibiotic prescriptions for 170,504 individuals with type 2 diabetes and for 1.3 million without the disease.
What they found was shocking.
Researchers realized that those with type 2 diabetes had more antibiotic prescriptions filled than those who did not have diabetes, even going as far back as 15 years before they were diagnosed.
The association even existed across all 16 groups of antibiotics, the researchers analyzed.
Those with diabetes filled approximately 0.8 prescriptions per year while their healthy counterparts only filled 0.5.
Past studies have shown that antibiotics can change the gut bacteria in the body and other research has suggested that antibiotics may even affect the body’s ability to process fat and sugar.
Type 2 diabetes has become a rising epidemic in the United States due to the overconsumption of sugars and lack of exercise. If this trend continues, by 2050, 1 in 3 people will have diabetes.
So, do these results show that taking antibiotics increases your risk of diabetes? Or does it show a greater demand for antibiotics from people with undiagnosed diabetes, because they are more at risk for infection?
Surprisingly, it’s both.
“The study does not tell us which interpretation is the right one,” says Dr. Mikkelsen. “Both interpretations are possible and both are supported by other research.”
Dr. Mikkelsen also notes that further research is needed in order to determine exactly what may be causing the association between antibiotics and type 2 diabetes:
“Diabetes is one of the greatest challenges facing modern healthcare, with a globally increasing incidence. Further investigation into long-term effect of antibiotic use on sugar metabolism and gut bacteria composition could reveal valuable answers about how to address this public health crisis. Patterns in antibiotic use may offer an opportunity to prevent the development of the disease or to diagnose it early.”
Now, don’t panic. There are ways to combat the damage that antibiotic use has done of your gut bacteria.
Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is probably the most important thing you can do to protect and improve your microflora. Both animal and human studies have confirmed that changes in the diet result in changes in the gut bacteria.
Eating a healthy diet low in fat and high in fiber had been linked to a more diverse and strong population of gut bacteria compared to a diet high in fat and low in fiber.
Research has also shown that gut bacteria can adapt and shift much faster on a plant-based diet than when on an animal-based diet.
Exercising regularly is also important to keeping a strong gut bacteria population.
By improving your gut bacteria, you’ll not only be helping to prevent type 2 diabetes, but also obesity, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, asthma and colon cancer.
Angelique Johnson is a nutritionist from Miami, FL. Through her own journey in weight loss, she discovered her love for health and nutrition and realized she wanted to help others achieve a healthier lifestyle. Angelique has been featured as a nutrition consult on CBS4 Miami News and is a published author on many online health sites. She is passionate about debunking diet rumors and showing her clients how to have a healthy, balanced relationship with food.
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