Diabetes: Plant metabolites make good antidiabetics


Type 2 diabetes, along with obesity, is a major public health concern. The global prevalence of the disease among adults has more than tripled in less than 20 years, from about 150 million in 2000 to more than 450 million in 2019. This prevalence could reach 700 million in 2045. There is therefore an urgent need to find the means available For everyone to prevent the development of the disease. Among these tools, nutrition constitutes a path to prevention, both logical and non-pharmacological.

A team from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (Boston), led by Professor Frank Hu and colleagues from the Department of Nutrition, here outlines profiles of metabolites associated with different plant-based diets, and rigorously examines which ones may be associated with this decrease in type 2 diabetes.

Metabolomics for determination of antidiabetic metabolites

The diabetes epidemic is mainly caused by an unhealthy diet, being overweight or obese, genetic predisposition and other lifestyle factors such as lack of exercise. Therefore, diet is a priority preventive goal, especially since it is already known that vegetarian diets, particularly healthy diets rich in high-quality foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, are associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

However, the underlying mechanisms still need to be identified and cytopathology can help us do this.

metabolism: A metabolite is a substance used or produced by the chemical processes of an organism and includes both compounds found in various foods and a whole complex set of molecules created when these compounds are broken down and converted for use by the body. Thus, diet is reflected in the metabolite profile. Recent technological advances in high-throughput metabolic profiling enable more advanced nutritional research by identifying all of the different metabolites present in a biological sample.

analysis From blood plasma samples and food intake of 10,684 participants from 3 prospective groups, with an average age of 54 years and with a high BMI (average 25.6 kg/m2) allows identification of foods and metabolites effective in preventing type 2 diabetes. 2 . General plant-based diet index), which is the speed indicator True herbal (hPDI: Vegetarian healthy diet index) and the Unhealthy Diet Index (uPDI: Index of unhealthy vegetarian diet). These diet pointers were based on the consumption of 18 food groups:

  • healthy plant foods (whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, vegetable oils, tea / coffee); unhealthy plant foods (refined grains, fruit juices, chips, sugary drinks, sweets/desserts); Foods of animal origin (animal fats, dairy products, eggs, fish / seafood, meat and various foods of animal origin). The team distinguished between healthy and unhealthy plant foods based on their already known association with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer, and other conditions including obesity and high blood pressure (HTA).

Analyzes of this data along with diet indicators allowed the team to elucidate associations between metabolites, diet indicator, and type 2 diabetes risk.

Metabolites, diet and diabetes risk: The study found that compared to participants without diabetes,

  • Participants diagnosed with diabetes during follow-up had lower intakes of healthy plant foods and lower PDI and uPDI scores;
  • Participants diagnosed with diabetes during follow-up had higher mean BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels;
  • They tend to use blood pressure and cholesterol medications, have a family history of diabetes, and are less physically active.
  • Metabolic data reveal that vegan diets are associated with unique pleiotropic metabolic profiles that differ significantly between healthy (hPDI) and unhealthy (uPDI) diets;
  • Higher hPDI metabolite profile scores and lower PDI scores are associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

But which are the most beneficial metabolites? The analysis reveals that levels of trigoniline, hippurate, isoleucine, and a small group of triacylglycerols (TAGs), and several other intermediate metabolites explain this association between vegan diets and type 2 diabetes elimination risk:

  • Trigoniline, for example, which is found in high concentrations in coffee is known — through animal studies — to exert beneficial effects against insulin resistance;
  • Higher levels of hepurate are associated with better blood sugar control, improved insulin secretion, and a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Therefore, the team suggests that these metabolites be studied further.

“Although it is difficult to separate the contributions of individual foods because they were analyzed together, individual metabolites from the consumption of polyphenol-rich plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, coffee, and legumes are all strongly associated with a healthy plant-based diet and reduced risk of diabetes.”

In summary, this large analysis confirms the benefits of plant-based diets in preventing diabetes and suggests further study of some metabolites that appear to be natural, therapeutic and prophylactic targets.


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