Gluten-free Diet Reduces Type 1 Diabetes Risk In Mice
May 9, 2014

Gluten-Free Diets Found To Reduce Type 1 Diabetes Risk In Mice

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

New experiments conducted in mice have discovered a possible link between a gluten-free diet and a reduced risk of developing type 1 diabetes, according to research published recently in the journal Diabetes.

While late-night talk show hosts like Jimmy Kimmel have demonstrated that not everyone seems to understand exactly what gluten is (for the record, it’s actually a type of protein found in foods made using wheat, barley, rye and other related types of grain), researchers from the University of Copenhagen have found that eliminating the substance in mouse mothers can protect their offspring from type 1 diabetes.

Through their experiments, they discovered a correlation between the health of the pups and the fact that their mothers were on a gluten-free diet. The findings could also apply to humans, the study authors explained in a statement, and could help prevent the disease through relatively simple dietary changes.

“Preliminary tests show that a gluten-free diet in humans has a positive effect on children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes,” said Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen, an assistant professor in the university’s Department of Veterinary Disease Biology. “We therefore hope that a gluten-free diet during pregnancy and lactation may be enough to protect high-risk children from developing diabetes later in life.”

While the results of rodent studies are not automatically applicable to people, co-author and professor Axel Kornerup said that in this instance, there is good reason to be optimistic. Kornerup, explained that early dietary intervention “makes a lot of sense because type 1 diabetes develops early in life,” and that previous research has already established that a gluten-free diet can have a beneficial impact on the disease.

During the course of the research, the authors observed changes in intestinal bacteria in both the mother and the pups as a result of the gluten-free diet. This gut bacteria plays an essential role in the development of the immune system, as well as the development for type 1 diabetes.

Furthermore, the research suggests that a gluten-free diet produces a protective effect which can be credited to specific intestinal flora, the researchers noted. While there is no evidence of other biological benefits, there appears to have no physical side effects to this diet. The only negative appears to be the inconvenience of eating gluten.

“This new study beautifully substantiates our research into a gluten-free diet as an effective weapon against type 1 diabetes,” said Karsten Buschard. “We have not been able to start a large-scale clinical test to either prove or disprove our hypothesis about the gluten-free diet.”

Assistant Professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen said that she and her colleagues are hoping that they will be able to continue these types of experiments, which started back in 1999. “If we find out how gluten or certain intestinal bacteria modify the immune system and the beta-cell physiology, this knowledge can be used to develop new treatments,” she said.