Diabetes fibre study seeks type-2 volunteers

By Stefan Dimitrof

A new clinical research study is looking into how eating more dietary fibre affects immune cell activity and blood sugar levels in people with type-2 diabetes.

And the study's organisers are looking for volunteers, who have been diagnosed with type-2 diabetes and live in the Wellington region, to take part.

“We’re looking to identify possible links between the clinical benefits of increased dietary fibre intake to changes in immune cell activity and metabolism,” Malaghan Institute senior research fellow Dr David O’Sullivan says.

O’Sullivan is running the study along with Dr Olivier Gasser and Professor Jeremy Krebs at the Wellington-based Centre for Endocrine, Diabetes, and Obesity Research.

According to the Manatū Hauora Ministry of Health, type-2 diabetes affects around a quarter of a million Kiwis, and rates are two to three times greater for Māori and Pasifika people than for people with European ancestry.

A combination of decreased insulin production and insulin sensitivity, which makes it difficult to control blood glucose levels, defines the illness.

Fibre's effects

High blood sugar levels significantly raise the risk of secondary illnesses including heart attacks and stroke.

People with type-2 diabetes frequently exhibit persistent low-grade inflammation and an augmented inflammatory response,  indicators considered to aid in the development of this illness.

The study aims to investigate how increasing dietary fibre consumption affects immune cells and gut microbiota in type-2 diabetes patients over a 14-week period while they are on their usual diet. The study will also measure blood glucose levels to see if an increase in fibre regularly brings them down.

“High fibre diets correlate with a decrease in inflammatory markers. We’ve seen in preclinical models that dietary fibre can modulate immune cell metabolism, leading to a rebalancing away from pro-inflammatory responses, which we hope translates to better outcomes for people with type-2 diabetes.," O'Sullivan says.

If  you are interested in joining the study, please contact DiabetesResearch@ccdhb.org.nz for more information.