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Can a Gluten-free Diet Lower the Risk of Diabetes?

Celiac.com 07/14/2014 - Early life intestinal problems have previously been shown to influence diabetes rates. There is also some evidence that a gluten-free diet can lower rates of diabetes, but just how strong is the influence of gluten-free diet on the development of diabetes?

Image: Wikimedia CommonsA recent study by a group of researchers in Denmark suggests that maternal gluten-free diet greatly reduces inflammation and rates of diabetes in the offspring of certain mice. This study led the team to hypothesize that a gluten-free diet, which is known to decrease type 1 diabetes incidence, may also offer protection against diabetes when followed during the pregnancy and lactation period.

The research team included Camilla H.F. Hansen, Łukasz Krych, Karsten Buschard, Stine B. Metzdorff, Christine Nellemann, Lars H. Hansen, Dennis S. Nielsen, Hanne Frøkiær, Søren Skov and Axel K. Hansen. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology of the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen, the Department of Food Science, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, the Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen, the Division of Toxicology and Risk Assessment of the National Food Institute at the Technical University of Denmark in Søborg, Denmark, and the Bartholin Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.

For their study, the team fed pregnant non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice either a gluten-free diet, or a standard diet, until all pups were weaned to standard diet. Overall, mice which experienced early life gluten-free diets had dramatically lower rates of diabetes and insulitis.

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An analysis of gut microbiota using 16S rRNA gene sequencing showed a major difference between both mothers and their offspring, marked by higher levels of Akkermansia, Proteobacteria, and TM7 in the gluten-free diet group. Gluten-free fed offspring showed increased M2 macrophage gene markers and tight junction-related genes in the gut, along with higher levels of pancreatic FoxP3 regulatory T cells.

Gluten-free offspring also had reduced intestinal gene expression of proinflammatory cytokines. Finding more T cells in the pancreas expressing the mucosal integrin α4β7 suggests that this is due to an increase in gut-primed immune cells moving to the pancreas.

The study shows clearly that a gluten-free diet during the fetal and early postnatal life lowers rates of diabetes. This may be due to a change in gut microbiota and a reduction in pro-inflammatory conditions in the gut and pancreas.

Clearly, further study is needed to better understand the factors at play, and how they relate to diabetes reduction efforts.

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2 Responses:

 
Mary Thorpe
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said this on
22 Jul 2014 7:32:23 AM PDT
It is not stated which type of diabetes is reduced: 1 or 2. Type 1, I presume?...Just went to the article through the citation given and indeed it's type 1 diabetes that the GF diet protects against.

 
Jefferson
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said this on
04 Aug 2014 12:40:43 PM PDT
Thanks for your comment! Type 1 diabetes is correct. I will adjust the article to make that more clear.




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That's good to know about Texas Children's, unfortunately I don't believe they accept our insurance. Our former pediatrician joined with one of their medical groups and we had to find a new one due to insurance. I'll check out their site though.

Texas children's hospital in the med center has a celiac center now. https://www.texaschildrens.org/departments/celiac-disease-clinic Good luck!

this is a very common subject on here. personally, most of my tests were negative, but i did the same thing you did (stopped eating gluten before the tests) my gi advised me to continue eating gluten free because i was so malnourished and when i stopped the gluten i actually began to gain weight. in other words, i think she was afraid for me to do the challenge bc it might kill me lolz. some people want a definite dx if they have kids that need to be tested in the future, some will not follow a strict g//f diet without a firm diagnosis (they think they can cheat just bc they were never formally diagnosed) what happened with my scope is the dr saw evidence of damage. that and my response to the diet were enough for me. she advised me to stay gluten-free and i agreed. it's been tough sometimes, but i never purposely cheated (that's how near death i was - swore i was dying of the big 'c'.......what a relief to not have that and my 'chemo' is 'impasta'. or fake bread. ) welcome to the forum and good luck with whatever you choose

I'm already noticing a difference after five days on the gluten-free diet...acid reflux is gone and stomach pain is getting better. I am glad you're going to try the gluten-free diet, Vanillabean, and get copies of all your results. I hope you find some relief from the pain soon! I'm still waiting for my biopsy results. I did call my doctor's office today and found out the genetic test was positive for a celiac gene (DQ8). My doctor was hoping to rule out celiac with that test, but now it's still up in the air. Still waiting.

meeeeeee!!!! i used to get pneumonia every single winter!!!! and all the flus and colds, etc - i am surrounded by kids and germs, but when they all get the flu, i do not. my husband (mr-play-through-the-pain) even got knocked down (spent 2-3 days in BED miserable) by the last round of virus, but not me. not to mention no headaches, no migraines, etc. hormones and the dreaded menopause, like hellodee2 said, is a whole 'nother ballgame lolz glad you are feeling better