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Gluten-Free Diet Helps Reduce Risk of Type 1 Diabetes In Mice

Update Date: May 08, 2014 09:17 AM EDT

Mouse mothers can protect their pups from developing type 1 diabetes by eating a gluten-free diet, according to new experiments. Researchers said these findings might also apply to humans. 

More than 1 percent of the Danish population has type 1 diabetes which is one of the highest incidence rates in the world. 

"Preliminary tests show that a gluten-free diet in humans has a positive effect on children with newly diagnosed type 1 diabetes. We therefore hope that a gluten-free diet during pregnancy and lactation may be enough to protect high-risk children from developing diabetes later in life," said assistant professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, in the press release.

Researchers also added that findings from experiments on mice not necessarily apply to humans but in this case they have grounds for optimism.

"Early intervention makes a lot of sense because type 1 diabetes develops early in life. We also know from existing experiments that a gluten-free diet has a beneficial effect on type 1 diabetes," said co-writer on the study professor Axel Kornerup from the Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

"If we find out how gluten or certain intestinal bacteria modify the immune system and the beta-cell physiology, this knowledge can be used to develop new treatments," added Assistant Professor Camilla Hartmann Friis Hansen in the press release.  

The findings have been published in the journal Diabetes

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