Dietary Fiber Decreases Diabetic Difficulties

Every human digestive system is home to trillions of bacterial cells, known as a microbiota. In fact, there are more bacteria in a person’s digestive tract than there are human cells in their entire body. These bacteria play an essential role in digestion, breaking down otherwise indigestible nutrients, into compounds that humans can use. This study finds that increased consumption of fiber can lead to a dramatic reduction in symptoms for patients with Type 2 Diabetes.


Although dietary fiber is indigestible to humans, it is fermentable by the gut microbiota. The gut bacteria ferment the dietary fiber and break it down into short fatty acids, which are essential for moderating glucose, or sugar, concentration, and maintaining proper human health. It is when these fatty acid molecules are lacking that the effects of Type 2 Diabetes are most severe.


Type 2 Diabetes is characterized by an imbalance in glucose concentration in the blood. By increasing short chain fatty acids, excess glucose can be metabolized (broken down and utilized) and the effects of Type 2 Diabetes are greatly diminished. It should come as no surprise that a dietary solution can be offered for a disorder that is largely the result of dietary imbalances, but this study restates the critical importance of the gut microbiota in digestion, and diabetes research. Because though many essential nutrients are indigestible to by humans, there is a lot more at play in digestion than the human physiology.


This study was published in Science Magazine, and serves as a reminder that the gut microbiota is a complex ecosystem that differs greatly from person to person depending on a variety of factors. The relationship between gut bacteria and humans is a mutually beneficial one, as the human consumes fiber, which the bacteria breaks down into usable compounds, which both bacteria and human can utilize. This research may serve to shift the focus in diabetes treatment from dietary glucose, to a more comprehensive understanding of digestive processes.



Zhao L, Zhang F, Ding X, Wu G, Lam YY, et al., (2018) Gut bacteria selectively promoted by dietary fibers alleviate type 2 diabetes. Science 359 (6380), 1151-1156

Pepper Patch for Pain Relief

Pepper Patch for Pain Relief

A double blind study out of the Netherlands, funded by Astellas Pharma, have found that skin patches containing capsaicin, the active component of chili peppers, has been show to significantly reduce pain in patients suffering from Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (PDPN).

PDPN is characterized by nerve damage due to chronically high blood sugar and diabetes, causing numbness, and often pain in hands, feet, and legs. It is a common complication of diabetes and is most often treated broadly as chronic pain or nerve damage. This study takes a more targeted approach.

The completed study consisted of 352 PDPN patients, half of whom were giving a placebo patch, the other half given a 8% capsaicin patch for only 30 minutes. The patients with the capsaicin achieved at least a 30% reduction on average daily pain, shortened treatment response time, and increased sleep quality. These effects were sustained for up to 12 weeks.

Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy is a debilitating condition that affects approximately one quarter of type 2 diabetes patients. A lack of treatment consensus has led Doctors to prescribe opiods, antidepressants, and anti-seizure medications to combat the pain. However these medications act on the entire central nervous system, not just the site of the pain, and have the potential for addiction, abuse, withdrawal, and worse. The concentrated capsaicin acts by shocking hyperactive neuron receptors near the skin providing rapid and targeted pain relief after only one 30-minute treatment.

Though over 35% of the non-placebo group reported adverse reactions (compared to 13% in the placebo group), most were mild to moderate in intensity; though 3 non-placebo patients saw severe irritation at the application site.

Doubtlessly this will not replace traditional treatment regimens anytime soon, but as research progresses on the effectiveness of capsaicin for nerve pain relief, it will be helpful to doctors and patients to have a moderately effective and comparably benign treatment for such a complex problem.

To date this is the first known study using a capsaicin patch for pain relief in this population, but if the results are any indication it will not be the last.

chili pepper

Capsaicin 8% Patch in Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study Simpson, David M. et al. The Journal of Pain , Volume 18 , Issue 1 , 42 – 53