Type I Diabetes Risk Influenced by Gluten?

gluten_diabetesThe human microbiome is the population of more than 100 trillion microorganisms that live in our gut, mouth, skin and elsewhere in our bodies. These microbial communities have numerous beneficial functions relevant to supporting life. They are needed to digest food, to prevent disease-causing bacteria from invading the body, and to synthesize essential nutrients and vitamins.

But there is increasing evidence that the microbiome also contributes to making people sick, including influencing susceptibility to complex diseases. It has been documented that intestinal microbiome has a large part in the development of Type 1 diabetes. Why would that be? A new study has shown that gluten in the diet might be responsible for modifying the intestinal microbiome, increasing incidences of Type 1 diabetes. Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat and other grains.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that mice fed a gluten-free diet had a dramatically reduced incidence of Type 1 diabetes. The mice were non-obese diabetic mice, or mice that grow to develop Type 1 diabetes. They found that the gluten-free diet was protective against type 1 diabetes. Next, they reintroduced gluten into the diets of the mice, and the protective effect was reversed. There also was a quantifiable impact of the gluten on the bacterial flora of the mice, which may be one way in which gluten could influence the likelihood of developing diabetes.

The findings suggest that the presence of gluten could be directly responsible for the diabetes-creating effects of diet. Dietary interventions may be very important in decreasing the risk of the development of Type 1 diabetes, the study concluded. Dr. Joseph Murray, study author and Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist said, “While this is purely an animal-based study, it allows us to manipulate these mice in such a way as to study the effects of certain diets, and these diet changes seem to make an impact on the likelihood of developing the mouse equivalent of type 1 diabetes.” Seeing these types of results in mice does not imply that the results would be the same in humans – but the findings are interesting and the researchers plan to next conduct a similar study in humans.

Related Reading: Gut Microbes–Transporter of Weight Loss Potential? and Gut Bacteria Tied to Long-Term Dietary Preference

Comments are closed.