Published on 12 April 2017

Researchers find that bacteria could play a key role in diet, metabolism and health.

Researchers in Finland have found that a large amount of a certain type of bacteria in the stomach could help people reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

According to the study, a high concentration of indolepropionic acid found in the blood serum could help reduce the risk of people developing type 2 diabetes.

Indolepropionic acid is a metabolite produced by intestinal bacteria, and can be naturally produced by people eating a fibre-rich diet.

Fibres can be found in breakfast cereal such as plain wholewheat biscuits, plain shredded whole grain, or porridge, wholemeal or granary breads and pasta, bulgur wheat, brown rice, jacket potatoes, and pulses like beans, lentils or chickpeas.

The results of the study by researchers at the University of Eastern Finland were recently published in Scientific Reports.

The study looked at 200 people with impaired glucose intolerance, which could lead to type 2 diabetes, who either developed type 2 diabetes within the first five years, or did not develop type 2 diabetes within a 15-year follow-up.

The greatest differences in the metabolic profiles of those who developed type 2 diabetes and those who did not were observed in the concentrations of indolepropionic acid and certain lipid metabolites (the way fat is broken down in the body).

Researchers believed their discovery could provide additional insight into the role of intestinal bacteria in the interplay between diet, metabolism and health.

A diet rich in whole grain products and fibre increased the indolepropionic acid concentration. A higher concentration of indolepropionic acid also seemed to promote insulin secretion by pancreatic beta cells, which researchers believed could explain why this type of acid could prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

Kati Hanhineva, Academy Research Fellow from the University of Eastern Finland, said: “While earlier studies 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.”

Read the report in Scientific Reports
Read How to get more fibre into your diet on NHS Choices
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