3. Intestinal Bacteria May Protect Against Diabetes

A high concentration of indolepropionic acid in the serum protects against type 2 diabetes, shows a new study from the University of Eastern Finland, published in Scientific Reports. Indolepropionic acid is a metabolite produced by intestinal bacteria, and its production is boosted by a fibre-rich diet. According to the researchers, the discovery provides additional insight into the role of intestinal bacteria in the complex interlink between diet, metabolism and health.

The study compared two groups participating in the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study, DPS. Instead of focusing on just a few pre-defined markers, metabolomics analysis was used, which allows for the determination of the study participants' metabolic profile, i.e. the concentrations of several metabolites. The greatest differences in the metabolic profiles of those who developed type 2 diabetes and those who didn't were observed in the concentrations of indolepropionic acid and certain lipid metabolites.

A high concentration of indolepropionic acid in the serum was discovered to protect against diabetes. Indolepropionic acid is a metabolite produced by intestinal bacteria. A diet rich in whole grain products and dietary fibre increased the indolepropionic acid concentration. A higher concentration of indolepropionic acid also seemed to promote insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells, which may explain the protective effect.

"Earlier studies, too, have linked intestinal bacteria with the risk of disease in overweight people. Our findings suggest that indolepropionic acid may be one factor that mediates the protective effect of diet and intestinal bacteria," Academy Research Fellow Kati Hanhineva from the University of Eastern Finland says.

The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study was the first randomised, controlled lifestyle intervention study to show that in persons with impaired glucose tolerance, type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle changes. The most important lifestyle changes included weight loss, more exercise and dietary adjustments to include more whole grain products, fruits and vegetable.

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