New foods can prevent diabetes and obesity

Validation of new antidiabetic food concept based on modulation of intestinal flora 

New foods can prevent diabetes and obesity

Those who eat fibres derived from barley experience better regulation of both blood sugar level and appetite than otherwise – up to 16 hours after the meal. This has been established by Anne Nilsson and her research colleagues at the Antidiabetic Food Centre at Lund University after several years of studies on the health effects of fibre-rich meals.

The research team has also shown that barley products’ positive effects are linked to a capacity to stimulate growth of the naturally occurring intestinal bacterium, Prevotella.

Good bacteria

“After that discovery, we asked ourselves whether the intestinal bacterium in question was beneficial in itself, which would mean that the bacterium could be used as a probiotic. We want to utilise our discovery in foods that prevent type 2 diabetes and obesity”, says Anne Nilsson of Lund University.

The researchers had shown that the bacterium was beneficial in studies on mice, which resulted in improved blood sugar regulation among the subjects. Now the researchers are pursuing that track, and among other things are developing pilot products that will be used in studies on human subjects.

The project team includes Rickard Öste, who has developed food products based on research findings and is the founder of the oats product company, Oatly.

Positive effect on the metabolism

“At present, there is no probiotic food on the market that has a documented effect on the metabolism, so the project has considerable potential”, says Anne Nilsson.

The group is applying for funding for continued research and preparation for a market launch. They are looking at various product concepts that can stimulate growth of the bacterium in question in the gastrointestinal tract. The products are to contain optimal roughage or the specific bacterium, or both fibres and bacteria.

“We want to develop foods aimed at healthy people that prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes and obesity. We hope that a first-generation food based on our concept will be on the market within a couple of years”, she says.

Updated 25 July 2017

Elisabet Ottosson