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Medicinal foods found for the first time to prevent type 1 diabetes

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
"Extreme superfoods" found to prevent type 1 diabetes for the first time.

Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute researchers have found for the first time how medicinal foods can prevent type 1 diabetes that in the past was referred to as juvenile diabetes.


The researchers say eating certain foods that are broken down by the fermentation process by gut bacteria can "completely protect" against type 1 diabetes.

A specialized diet formulated by the Monash team in conjunction with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) focuses on certain starches, some of which are found in fruits and vegetables.

How speclialized diet thwarts type 1 diabetes

Starches in foods produce the short-chain fatty acids acetate and butyrate that the researchers discovered boost the immune system and prevent inflammation; in turn preventing type 1 diabetes.

Researcher Dr Eliana Mariño said: "The Western diet affects our gut microbiota and the production of these short-chain fatty acids."

"Our research found that eating a diet which encourages the gut bacteria that produce high levels of acetate or butyrate improves the integrity of the gut lining, which reduces pro-inflammatory factors and promote immune tolerance."

The finding, published in the journal Nature Immunology. shows the impact on eating medicinal foods to prevent autoimmune diseases that occur when the body mistakenly attacks healthy cells and organs.

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Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmue disease that is caused when insulin producing cells in the pancreas are attacked and destroyed.

Type 1 Diabetes Diet as Extreme Superfoods

Professor Charles Mackay who spearheaded the study said the diet used could be described as ' extreme superfoods" that are digestible, natural and a normal part of our diet.

The diet also requires a special process that would need to be managed by clinicians, nutritionists and dietitians, Mackay added.

The researchers hope to continue their studies to take their findings into clinical trials including whether eating the medicinal foods could help obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma and food allergies.

"The findings illustrate the dawn of a new era in treating human disease with medicinal foods," Professor Mackay said.

'Gut microbial metabolites limit the frequency of autoimmune T cells and protect against type 1 diabetes"
Eliana Mariño, et al.
March 27, 2017

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