Research carried out by the Mayo Clinic lends weight to the hypothesis that gluten may be a causal factor in the development of type 1 diabetes.
The study used mice to test the effects of a gluten free diet on rates of type 1 diabetes. The mice used in the study were those bred to develop type 1 diabetes. Blood glucose levels were monitored through the study and compared between the mice on a diet that included gluten and the mice that had a gluten free diet. The researchers also measured bacterial flora to study changes in bacterial composition of the rodent’sintestines.
Results showed that the mice on the gluten free diet had significantly lower rates of type 1 diabetes. After establishing this, the researchers investigated adding gluten into the diet of those mice that had been gluten free diet and observed that the protective effect was no longer maintained as those mice began to develop high blood glucose levels.
In addition to the observed effects of hyperglycemia following a gluten containing diet, changes were also observed in gut bacteria of the mice, suggesting that this may be part of the mechanism in the development of the autoimmune condition.
The study received funding from the Iacocca Foundation, an organisation set up by Lee Iacocca, a wealthy businessman whose wife sadly died from diabetes complications.
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