Pet research dividends doubled for understanding human diabetes,
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URBANA -- A family
of research projects in the University of Illinois Department of
Animal Sciences is producing information useful in combating
diabetes and obesity in dogs and humans, according to the project's
leader, George Fahey, professor of animal sciences.
"We get a double impact from
this research -- what works in a dog tends to work in a human," he
The projects focus on a number
of areas related to diabetes, gastrointestinal health and obesity
and have identified novel carbohydrates that, when ingested by both
dogs and humans, improve tolerance for carbohydrates while
increasing dietary fiber content.
"There are a number of these
'novel' carbohydrates that most people know nothing about," said
Fahey. "One in particular -- pullulan cyclodextrin -- can modify the
glycemic index, an indicator of tolerance for carbohydrates.
"When both humans and dogs eat
too many carbohydrates, obesity may result, and this can often be a
precursor for diabetes."
However, tests indicate that
pullulan cyclodextrin actually blunts the body's glycemic response,
decreasing the spikes in blood sugar levels that can be an
extenuating circumstance in diabetes.
"When this carbohydrate is
included in the diet in any form, the result is better control of
the glycemic response," said Fahey. "And you don't have to eat a lot
of it to get the job done. Additionally, this novel carbohydrate has
a fiber-like quality that allows its substitution for traditional
dietary fiber sources.
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"Less of these novel
carbohydrates is needed, thus lowering the amounts of traditional
dietary fibers that must be ingested for optimal health."
The research has important
implications for both dogs and humans afflicted with diabetes or at
risk for the disease.
"The American population is
overweight, and type 2 diabetes is occurring at almost epidemic
levels," Fahey said. "The same thing is occurring in the pet
population. Thirty percent of dogs in the United States are
overweight and, like humans, have diabetes and large-bowel problems
as a result. One way to combat this is to modify the diet."
Fahey said clinical trials are
continuing, but the early indications are positive.
"These are pure carbohydrates and very palatable," he said. "And it
also appears they have the added benefit of doing the same thing as
a large amount of fiber content in the diet without negative side
[University of Illinois release]