Antioxidants protect against several types of diabetes
Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E are known to be inversely related to type 1 diabetes, which is an autoimmune disease. In a new Swedish study that is published in Nutrients, scientists have found that vitamin E also protects against type 1,5 diabetes, which is similar to type 1 and type 2 diabetes because it involves both autoimmune reactions and insulin resistance. The scientists list different foods that are rich in vitamin E and also describe how vitamin E protects the pancreas against autoimmune attacks and oxidative stress.
The new Swedish study looked at how different antioxidants affect type 1,5 diabetes, which is also called LADA (Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adulthood). This type of adult diabetes is either seen with high levels of antibodies (LADAhigh) or low levels of antibodies (LADAlow). The autoimmune reactions are similar to those seen with type 1 diabetes, where antibodies attack the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. In addition, type 1,5 diabetes is characterized by insulin resistance, which is also seen with type 2 diabetes. Insulin resistance is when the cellular glucose uptake is impaired because the body’s insulin fails to do its job properly.
The Swedish scientists also tested participants with type 2 diabetes, they looked at the function of the insulin-producing beta cells (HOMA-β), and the degree of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR)
They used data from a large Swedish population study from which they selected 585 participants with type 1,5 diabetes, 1,989 participants with type 2 diabetes, and 2,276 participants that served as a control group.
By comparing with data from a biobank, the researchers calculated the participants’ intake of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. They found an inverse relation between the intake of vitamins C and E and LADAhigh but not with LADAlow or type 2 diabetes. Vitamin E was also associated with improved function of the insulin-producing beta cells (HOMA-β) and a lower degree of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). The scientists ended up concluding that vitamin E protects against type 1,5 diabetes in adults (LADA).
How does vitamin E protect against type 1,5 diabetes?
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body against oxidative stress caused by free radicals, which are aggressive molecules that can trigger inflammation and cause damage to cells and tissue. Free radicals occur naturally in the human body but are increased by things like stress, smoking, overweight, different types of medicine, poisoning, and various other factors. The scientists assume that vitamin E’s antioxidant function is what protects the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas against oxidative stress and autoimmune reactions caused by antibodies. They also believe that vitamin E protects against insulin resistance.
What foods contain vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble nutrient and is primarily found in plant oils, nuts, kernels, seeds, whole grain, and avocado. You also get vitamin E from cabbage and other dark leafy greens, eggs, high-fat dairy products, and cod liver oil. Stick with healthy, high-quality, unspoiled plant oils and don’t shy away from fats.
- Somewhere between 5-10 percent of diabetics have type 1,5 diabetes (LADA)
- Most people who are diagnosed with type 1,5 diabetes develop type 2 diabetes first
- Type 1,5 diabetes develops slowly and typically affects those between 30 and 50 years of age
- The immune defense destroys the insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas
- The body is still able to produce insulin, but the amount of insulin and its quality vary quite a lot
- This makes it difficult to manage blood sugar levels or to adjust one’s insulin medication to a specific pattern
- Once fully developed, type 1,5 diabetes is a lot like type 1 diabetes because the body stops producing insulin
Anna-Maria Lampousi et al. Antioxidant Nutrients and Risk of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults and Type 2 Diabetes: A Swedish Case-Control Study and Mendelian Randomization Analysis. Nutrients 2023
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