Mom's gluten-free diet may prevent type 1 diabetes in high-risk children
Women who eat a gluten-free diet during pregnancy and lactation may spare their children from developing diabetes later in life, according to a new study from the University of Copenhagen.
Researchers found that mouse mothers who didn't consume gluten protected their high-risk offspring from developing type 1 diabetes, which may have implications for humans, the team said.
"Early intervention makes a lot of sense because type 1 diabetes develops early in life," said study co-author Axel Kornerup, from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. "We also know from existing experiments that a gluten-free diet has a beneficial effect on type 1 diabetes."
Diet changes intestinal bacteria
Researchers saw that a gluten-free diet changed the landscape of intestinal bacteria in both mother and pup mice. Since intestinal flora is directly related to the health of the immune system – and type 1 diabetes – a gluten-free diet may protect against harmful gut flora or create more beneficial gut flora.
However, at this point, the researchers note, the study only points to a theory.
"We have not been able to start a large-scale clinical test to either prove or disprove our hypothesis about the gluten-free diet," said researcher Karsten Buschard.
There is hope, however, that finding out how gluten changes the immune response will enable researchers to develop new treatments for diabetes.
The findings of the study are published in the journal Diabetes.
Source: Science Daily