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A diet high in resistant starch provides protection against diabetes

Photo: Starchy diet protects against diabetes
Australian researchers say a diet yielding high amounts of short-chain fatty acids acetate and butyrate protects against type 1 or juvenile diabetes.

A specialised diet high in resistant starch found in many foods including fruit and vegetables provides "complete" protection against type 1 diabetes, according to a new study.

Research conducted at the Monash University's Biomedicine Discovery Institute found the diet developed by the CSIRO benefits the immune system because of the high amounts of short-chain fatty acids acetate and butyrate it produces within the gut.

"The Western diet affects our gut microbiota and the production of these short-chain fatty acids," researcher Dr Eliana Marino said.
"Our research found that eating a diet which encourages the gut bacteria that produce high levels of acetate or butyrate improves the integrity of the gut lining, which reduces pro-inflammatory factors and promote immune tolerance."

"We found this had an enormous impact on the development of type 1 diabetes."

The findings have been published in journal Nature Immunology.

Professor Charles Mackay, who initiated the research, says the study highlights how drug-free approaches including special diets could treat or prevent autoimmune diseases such as type 1 diabetes.

"The findings illustrate the dawn of a new era in treating human disease with medicinal foods," Professor Mackay said.

"The materials we used are something you can digest that is comprised of natural products - resistant starches are a normal part of our diet.

However, he says, the diet is not just about eating vegetables or high-fibre foods but involves special food and a special process, and would need to be managed by nutritionists, dietitians and clinicians.

FOODS HIGH IN RESISTANT STARCH:

  • Potato
  • Cashew nuts
  • Bananas
  • Oats
  • White beans
  • Lentils

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