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Low carbohydrate diet reduces inflammation in type 2 diabetes

A low-carbohydrate diet, but not a low-fat diet, reduces inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes, according to a new study from Linköping University in Sweden, "Advice to follow a low-carbohydrate diet has a favorable impact on low-grade inflammation in type 2 diabetes compared with advice to follow a low-fat diet," by L Jonasson, H Gullbrand, A K Lundberg and F Nyström, published in the May 2014 issue of the Annals of Medicine, Vol. 46, No. 3.

Low carbohydrate diet reduces inflammation in type 2 diabetes.
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

It is known that patients with type 2 diabetes have higher levels of inflammation than those who do not have the disease, and it is believed that this may contribute to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and other complications. In a clinical trial at Linköping University a low-carbohydrate diet was compared with a traditional low-fat diet in 61 patients with type 2 diabetes. Only patients in the low-carbohydrate group exhibited reduced levels of inflammatory markers in blood, despite the fact that weight loss was similar in both groups, according to a May 8, 2014 news release, "Low-carbohydrate diet reduced inflammation."

The trial was conducted over a two year period and was led by Dr Hans Guldbrand and Professor Fredrik H Nyström. The patients were randomly assigned to a low-carbohydrate diet or a traditional low-fat diet and were given menu suggestions and advices by a dietician during three occasions of the first year. The effects on blood glucose, blood lipids and weight were recently published in the journal Diabetologia in 2012.

In the present study, published in the journal Annals of Medicine, the effects of diets on inflammation were studied in collaboration with cardiologist Professor Lena Jonasson. Compared with healthy individuals without diabetes, the patients exhibited significantly higher levels of inflammatory markers at baseline. New analyses were performed after six months, i.e. when adherence to the two diets was greatest and the weight loss had reached maximum.

Weight reduction in both groups was similar, around 4 kg, whereas glucose levels decreased more in the low-carbohydrate group (who had lowered their carbohydrate intake to 25% of total energy intake). After six months, inflammation was significantly reduced in the low-carbohydrate group while no changes were observed in the low-fat diet group.

In summary, the presented clinical trial resulted in a similar weight loss comparing low-carbohydrate diet and low-fat diet, but only the low-carbohydrate diet had a favorable impact on inflammation in patients with type 2 diabetes. Also, you may wish to check out the abstract of another study, "Myocardial infarction and gastro-intestinal bleeding risks associated with aspirin use among elderly individuals with type 2 diabetes."

Personalized nutrition and obesity

You may wish to see another study's abstract, "Personalized nutrition and obesity." It explains that the past few decades have witnessed a rapid rise in nutrition-related disorders such as obesity in the United States and over the world. Traditional nutrition research has associated various foods and nutrients with obesity.

Recent advances in genomics have led to identification of the genetic variants determining body weight and related dietary factors such as intakes of energy and macronutrients. In addition, compelling evidence has lent support to interactions between genetic variations and dietary factors in relation to obesity and weight change.

Moreover, recently emerging data from other ‘omics’ studies such as epigenomics and metabolomics suggest that more complex interplays between the global features of human body and dietary factors may exist at multiple tiers in affecting individuals’ susceptibility to obesity; and a concept of ‘personalized nutrition’ has been proposed to integrate this novel knowledge with traditional nutrition research, with the hope ultimately to endorse person-centric diet intervention to mitigate obesity and related disorders.

The gluten-free diet and a reduced risk of type 1 diabetes in mice

New experiments on mice show, that mouse mothers can protect their pups from developing type 1 diabetes by eating a gluten-free diet. According to preliminary studies by researchers at the University of Copenhagen the findings may apply to humans, according to the May 8, 2014 news release, "Gluten-free diet reduces risk of type 1 diabetes in mice." You may wish to check out the abstract of the recent study, "A maternal gluten-free diet reduces inflammation and diabetes incidence in the offspring of NOD mice," published online April 2, 2014 in the journal Diabetes.

New experiments on mice show, that mouse mothers can protect their pups from developing type 1 diabetes by eating a gluten-free diet. According to preliminary studies by researchers at the University of Copenhagen, the findings may apply to humans.

More than 1% of the Danish population has type 1 diabetes, one of the highest incidence rates in the world

New experiments on mice now show a correlation between the health of the pups and their mothers eating a gluten-free diet. Gluten is a protein which is found in certain types of grains such as wheat, barley and rye; it gives elasticity to dough, for example. The researchers' hope is that the disease may be prevented through simple dietary changes, the researchers say, according to the news release.

"Preliminary tests show that a gluten-free diet in humans has a positive effect on children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. 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," says assistant professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen, according to the news release. Hansen is from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The findings have recently been published in the journal Diabetes.

14 years of research into gluten-free diet

Findings from experiments on mice are not necessarily applicable to humans, but in this case we have grounds for optimism, says co-writer on the study professor Axel Kornerup from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

"Early intervention makes a lot of sense because type 1 diabetes develops early in life. We also know from existing experiments that a gluten-free diet has a beneficial effect on type 1 diabetes," he says, according to the news release. Experiments of this type have been going on since 1999, originally initiated by Professor Karsten Buschard from the Bartholin Institute at Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, another co-writer on the study.

"This new study beautifully substantiates our research into a gluten-free diet as an effective weapon against type 1 diabetes," Karsten Buschard explains. The study was conducted on 30 mouse pups from gluten-fed mothers and 30 mice from mothers fed a gluten-free diet. It showed that feeding a gluten-free diet to mothers during pregnancy and lactation was enough to protect their pups from developing type 1 diabetes later in life. In mice, type 1 diabetes usually develops after 13 weeks. The pups were fed a normal diet containing gluten.

Gluten-free diet affects bacteria

The experiment showed that the diet changed the intestinal bacteria in both the mother and the pups. The intestinal flora plays an important role for the development of the immune system as well as the development of type 1 diabetes, and the study suggests that the protective effect of a gluten-free diet can be ascribed to certain intestinal bacteria. The advantage of the gluten-free diet is that the only side-effect seems to be the inconvenience of having to avoid gluten, but there is no certain evidence of the effect or side-effects.

"We have not been able to start a large-scale clinical test to either prove or disprove our hypothesis about the gluten-free diet," says Karsten Buschard, according to the news release. Assistant Professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen is hoping that it will be possible to continue the work. "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 says, according to the news release.