Probiotics: Healthy bacteria can improve diabetes

Probiotics: Healthy bacteria can improve diabetes

Probiotics are live bacteria, which can be consumed as supplements or in foods, that improve health in some way. After consumption, they begin to populate the gut which can lead to various health benefits, such as reduced inflammation and insulin resistance in the entire body.

Sometimes probiotics are given together with prebiotics. Prebiotics are food for the bacteria. An example of a prebiotic is fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS).

A 2013 meta-analysis of 4 studies on patients with fatty liver disease found that probiotics significantly reduce insulin resistance and improve liver health compared to placebo.1

Women given probiotics (Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacterium lactis) during pregnancy, and up to 6 months after, had lower insulin resistance and blood sugar and a lower risk of developing prediabetes, compared to a placebo group.2, 3

Giving the bacterial strain Lactobacillus acidophilus to healthy people, prediabetics or diabetics, resulted in lower insulin resistance, compared to placebo, after 4 weeks.4

In type 2 diabetics, 300 grams of probiotic yoghurt per day for 8 weeks, enriched with Bifidobacterium animalis and Lactobacillus acidophilus, reduced HbA1c compared to yoghurt without those bacterial strains.5

Another study on type 2 diabetics also found that 300 grams of yoghurt per day for 6 weeks, enriched with Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium lactis, reduced HbA1c and fasting blood sugar compared to standard yoghurt.6

Side effects of probiotics are usually mild and include bloating, gas, diarrhea, and so on, and they usually improve over time.

Here are some proven bacterial strains that you can look for when you shop around:

  • Bifidobacterium longum
  • Lactobacillus rhamnosus
  • Bifidobacterium lactis
  • Lactobacillus acidophilus
  • Bifidobacterium animalis

As mentioned briefly above, prebiotics can also improve diabetes. Again, prebiotics is food for the good bacteria in the gut, so eating prebiotics increases the amount of helpful bacteria, without actually taking probiotic supplements. To learn more about improving diabetes with prebiotics, check out Defeating Diabetes.



  1. Ma YY, Li L, Yu CH, Shen Z, Chen LH, Li YM. Effects of probiotics on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a meta-analysis. World J Gastroenterol. Oct 28;19(40):6911-6918.
  2. Ilmonen J, Isolauri E, Poussa T, Laitinen K. Impact of dietary counselling and probiotic intervention on maternal anthropometric measurements during and after pregnancy: a randomized placebo-controlled trial. Clin Nutr. Apr;30(2):156-164.
  3. Laitinen K, Poussa T, Isolauri E. Probiotics and dietary counselling contribute to glucose regulation during and after pregnancy: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. Jun 2009;101(11):1679-1687.
  4. Andreasen AS, Larsen N, Pedersen-Skovsgaard T, et al. Effects of Lactobacillus acidophilus NCFM on insulin sensitivity and the systemic inflammatory response in human subjects. Br J Nutr. Dec;104(12):1831-1838.
  5. Mohamadshahi M, Veissi M, Haidari F, Shahbazian H, Kaydani GA, Mohammadi F. Effects of probiotic yogurt consumption on inflammatory biomarkers in patients with type 2 diabetes. Bioimpacts.4(2):83-88.
  6. Ejtahed HS, Mohtadi-Nia J, Homayouni-Rad A, Niafar M, Asghari-Jafarabadi M, Mofid V. Probiotic yogurt improves antioxidant status in type 2 diabetic patients. Nutrition. May;28(5):539-543.