A new study from the University Hospital Basel, in Switzerland, has found that the composition of our diet can trigger an inflammatory response that either helps support the immune system or promote chronic inflammation that stresses beta cells.
This research, published in the journal Nature Immunology, shows that basic energy metabolism is tightly linked to immune system regulation.
Every time we eat a meal, an inflammatory response occurs and, researchers suggest, the size effects of that response depends in part on how much that meal will raise our blood sugars.
A substance involved in chronic inflammation in type 2 diabetes and looked at by researchers is Interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta). Some clinical studies have treated diabetes by cutting the over-production of IL-1beta responsible for beta cell decline.
IL-1beta is produced by a type of immune cells, called macrophages, which are located around the intestines.
The Basel researchers found that the number of these macrophages increases during meal times. They also noticed that, depending on the concentration of glucose in the blood, when insulin production ramps up, it causes macrophages to increase IL-1 beta production.
And the reverse also holds true. When researchers decreased IL-1beta in mice during refeeding, it diminished insulin levels.
What researchers believe is that levels of IL-1beta are tightly regulated. When they are in the normal range, they contribute to the activation of the immune system, which confer protective effects. Problems arise when they’re too high and trigger chronic inflammation.
A hypothesis put forward by researchers is that the detrimental effects of inflammation may be circumvented through diets that help cultivate good gut bacteria.
The basis for this is that as we alter our diet, we also alter the microbiome and sometimes that leads to a higher level of gut bacteria that cause inflammatory changes.
According to researchers, an appropriate diet could also be one that interferes with a protein complex called the NLRP3 inflammasomen, which essentially releases IL-1beta.
A low carb, high fat, ketogenic diet fits that description. The ketone body beta hydroxybutyrate has been shown to block the NLRP3 inflammasome and the release of IL-1beta, thereby reducing inflammatory responses.

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