New research, partly funded by the Diabetes Australia Research Program (DARP), has found that a medicinal diet that boosts good bacteria in the gut could help reduce the risk of type 1 diabetes.

The research, from a team at Monash University, found a special combination of fermentable fibre was successful in stopping mice from developing type 1 diabetes.

The specialised diet uses starches – found in many foods including fruit and vegetables – that resist digestion and pass through to the colon or large bowel where they are broken down by gut bacteria (microbiota). This fermentation process produces a combination of fibre which provide protection against type 1 diabetes.

However, Professor Mackay cautioned that eating high amounts of fruits and vegetables wouldn’t be enough to get the effect.

Instead researchers, who hope to test the diet on humans in the future, said the diet would likely be administered in the form of a supplement that people could sprinkle on their food to help create the fermentation process.

If trials are successful the supplement would be suitable for targeting people who may be at a high genetic risk of type 1 diabetes.

Dr Eliana Marino, one of the lead researchers on the study, received a $150,000 DARP Type 1 Diabetes Millennium Grant to support her research on the project.