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article imageIntestinal bacteria may protect against diabetes

By Tim Sandle     Apr 16, 2017 in Science
Medical research suggests that a high concentration of indolepropionic acid in serum helps to protect a person against type 2 diabetes. Indolepropionic acid is produced by intestinal bacteria, and it is higher with a fiber-rich diet.
The new research adds to the body of work about the microbiome of the gut (the microorganisms and their genetic interactions within the intestines), the type of food eaten, and overall health. The link between a high fiber diet, lower chances of developing type 2 diabetes, and the role of intestinal bacteria highlights the complexity of the interplay between diet, metabolism and health. This includes the science pages of Digital Journal, such as a report about how unhealthy gut microorganisms can trigger a rise in blood pressure. This, in turn, leads to hypertension. Such research reinforces the role the balance of human microorganisms play in disease.
The new findings stems from the University of Eastern Finland based on data drawn from a study. The experiment looked at two groups who participated in the wider Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study.
Each of the 200 subjects in the study was classed as being overweight. Each were person was also identified as having impaired glucose tolerance. Based on data collected overtime, the scientists were able to divide the subjects into two groups: in one group the people either developed type 2 diabetes within the first 5 years, or they did not convert to type 2 diabetes within a 15-years.
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The next step was to figure out what the metabolic differences between the two groups was (using metabolomics analysis to ascertain the concentrations of several metabolites). The biggest factor was the concentration of indolepropionic acid as well as certain lipid metabolites. A higher concentration of indolepropionic acid additionally promotes insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells which probably explains the protective effect. Here it was found that a high concentration of indolepropionic acid in the serum offered protection against diabetes. Indolepropionic acid is a metabolite produced by intestinal bacteria.
Bread rich in fiber
Bread rich in fiber
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Further research revealed that a diet rich in whole grain products and dietary fiber increased the indolepropionic acid concentration, by encouraging a certain population of bacteria in the gut to become predominant. The results match those of other studies: the Finnish Metabolic Syndrome In Men Study and in the Swedish Västerbotten Intervention Project. The connecting factor between the experimental results across the three studies is indolepropionic acid.
The study also found some new lipid metabolites which are linked to improved insulin resistance and reduced risk of diabetes. With these, the lower the amount of saturated fat in the diet, then the higher the concentrations of these metabolites. Overall the measures to take to lower the chance of developing type 2 diabetes are: weight loss, more exercise and dietary adjustments, as the new research indicates. Here the diet should contain more whole grain products, fruits and vegetables.
The research findings have been published in the journal Scientific Reports. The research paper is titled “Indolepropionic acid and novel lipid metabolites are associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study.”
More about Gut bacteria, microbiome, Diabetes, Medicine
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