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'Medicinal Food' Diet Is Effective Against Diabetes: Study

30 March 2017, 12:55 pm EDT By Livia Rusu Tech Times
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Scientists have discovered that a diet with high amounts of short-chain fatty acids acetate and butyrate provided positive effects on the immune system, protecting the subjects against juvenile or type 1 diabetes.

The specialized diet was developed by CSIRO and Monash University researchers who discovered that starches found in numerous types of food including fruits and vegetables can resist digestion. Instead of being digested, some of them pass through to the colon, where they are broken down by microbiota (gut bacteria).

Natural Diet Could Treat And Prevent Type 1 Diabetes

This process of starch fragmentation creates acetate and butyrate which can completely protect against type 1 diabetes when working together.

The findings were received with a lot of interest at the International Congress of Immunology in Melbourne in 2016, where they were presented. The results of the study were published, March 27, in the journal Nature Immunology.

According to the researchers, the study underlines how natural approaches, starting with special diets and the regulation of gut bacteria, could treat or prevent a series of autoimmune diseases.

"Each diet provided a high degree of protection from diabetes, even when administered after breakdown of immune-tolerance. Feeding mice a combined acetate- and butyrate-yielding diet provided complete protection, which suggested that acetate and butyrate might operate through distinct mechanisms," noted the study.

As part of the research, the scientists employed materials that people can digest — all of which were comprised of natural products, as starches that resist human digestion are perfectly natural in a person's diet. As a result of this starch resistance, the body releases beneficial metabolites, which the researchers described as "superfood".

Professor Charles Mackay, the lead researcher, noted that the diet was not solely about eating foods rich in fiber or just vegetables, but consisted of special foods which follow an equally special process. This type of diet would have to be prescribed by a nutritionist, a clinician or a dietitian, and it should not be self-administered.

After the positive results of the research, the scientists wish to get the necessary funding to start a clinical trial with the conclusions of this study.

Both teams who worked on the study and other specialists in Australia are making efforts to expand their research and better understand the effects of this diet on obesity, as well as other inflammatory diseases. Among these, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, food allergies, asthma and Inflammatory Bowel Disease are a priority.

Diabetes, A National Problem

Currently, an approximate number of more than 29 million people suffer from either type 1 or type 2 diabetes in the United States. Of these, only 21 million people are diagnosed, which means that 27.8 percent of the people who suffer from either type of diabetes are currently undiagnosed.

Of the total number of people who suffer from diabetes, between 5 and 10 percent have type 1 of the disease.

"However, because type 1 diabetes accounts for approximately 5 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes among adults, trends documented in the surveillance system may not be reflective of trends in type 1 diabetes," notes the CDC data.

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