A new study conducted by researchers from the University Health Network found that a high-fat diet can lead to insulin resistance, which can be a precursor to diabetes.
According to the researchers, obesity creates inflammation throughout the body as a result of how our gut’s immune system responds to certain bacteria. That inflammation is known to lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to several other health complications.
Understanding how diet plays a role
Previous studies have shown that diets high in fat content can compromise the digestive system. With this in mind, the researchers set out to see how overall gut health was affected by what we eat.
Through trials, the researchers discovered that foods higher in fat content create different reactions in the gut immune system, which can affect other body processes.
“We discovered that during obesity, there are lower levels of a type of B cell in the gut that make an antibody called IgA,” said researcher Helen Luck. “IgA is naturally produced by our bodies and is crucial to regulating bacteria that live in our gut. It acts as a defense mechanism that helps neutralize potentially dangerous bacteria that take advantage of changes to the environment, such as when we consume an imbalanced or fatty diet.”
Tests conducted with other health experts reinforced that IgA levels were affected by consumers’ diets. Those whose diets were high in fat tended to have lower IgA levels, which can compromise the body’s ability to fight against diseases like diabetes.
“If we can boost these IgA b cells or their products, then we may be able to control the type of bacteria in the gut,” said Dr. Dan Winer. “Especially the ones that are more likely to be linked to inflammation and ultimately insulin resistance. Going forward, this work could form the basis for new gut immune biomarkers or therapies for obesity and its complications, like insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.”
Knowing the warning signs
Late last year, researchers found that type 2 diabetes can reveal warning signs up to two decades before patients ever receive a formal diagnosis.
According to the study, it’s imperative for consumers to pay attention to critical risk factors that are known to lead to diabetes: insulin resistance, body mass index (BMI), and fasting glucose levels. Taking the necessary steps to avoid having these symptoms escalate could help prevent many patients from ever actually becoming diabetic.
“A much earlier intervention trail, either drug or lifestyle related, is warranted,” said researcher Dr. Hiroyuki Sagesaka.