Why does sport help with diabetes?

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Deciphered positive effects of sport in diabetes

Researchers have found out why exercise is so helpful for type II diabetes. Marc Donath from the University and University Hospital Basel and colleagues have for the first time deciphered the positive mechanism behind the positive effects of sporting activities in diabetes.

As the Swiss researchers report, sport has an impact on hormone production in the human organism, which means that more insulin is made available and the blood sugar level of type 2 diabetes (so-called adult diabetes) can be normalized in the long term. The recommendation made by most doctors for type 2 diabetics for weight loss and increased physical exercise is therefore rightly particularly important in diabetes therapy.

Obesity reduces insulin production In the development of so-called adult diabetes, several factors often come together, whereby obesity and lack of exercise are important factors. The pancreas cannot produce enough insulin in overweight people, insulin production generally decreases with age and the metabolism of those affected is less sensitive to insulin, the researchers describe possible developmental processes for diabetes. In the past, the treatment of type 2 diabetes has already had significant success with dietary changes and sporting activities, although it has so far remained unclear which exact mechanisms lead to the positive effects of sport. As part of their study, the Swiss researchers have now developed an explanatory model for the underlying processes in the human organism.

Sport activates hormones Marc Donath and colleagues have shown that the activation of muscles during sport stimulates the production of the molecule interleukin-6 (IL-6). The researchers were also able to decipher the initially unexplained effects of the IL-6: the molecule has a major influence on hormone production in the pancreas. To understand this, we first need to explain the hormone glucagon-like-peptide-1 (GLP-1) produced by the L cells in the intestine. The release of the GLP-1 is stimulated after eating, as soon as the food has reached the intestine. The GLP-1 then promotes insulin production in the organism, which facilitates the breakdown of blood sugar. The Swiss researchers have now been able to demonstrate that GLP-1 release is also stimulated in the muscles when moving. In addition, Marc Donath and colleagues found that IL-6 contributes to the reprogramming of the so-called islet cells of the pancreas (α cells), which then switch from glucose production to glucagon to the production of GLP-1. According to the researchers, this in turn means that the so-called β cells in the pancreas release more insulin. As a result of the changed hormone production during sporting activities, more insulin is made available in the organism, which lowers blood sugar and can have a positive effect on the course of the disease in diabetes, reports the team around Marc Donath.

According to the scientists, this discovered hormone cycle of the IL-6 and GLP-1 offers numerous new options for the therapeutic treatment of diabetes. Accordingly, the highest possible IL-6 release in the body could be achieved with sports, for example, in order to maximize insulin production at certain times. The effectiveness of existing drugs that prevent the breakdown of GLP-1 in the organism and thus increase insulin production can also be increased if exercise also stimulates the IL-6 release, so the hope of Donath and colleagues. Combined with sport, the success of therapy could possibly be significantly improved, the Swiss researchers emphasized. This assumption is currently being investigated in a comprehensive clinical study with overweight people and diabetics at the University Hospital Basel, the Swiss scientists explained. Regarding the IL-6, the researchers also noted that, interestingly enough, it is also produced in the adipose tissue of overweight people. Here, too, IL-6 serves to increase insulin production, but in some people this simply cannot be increased to the required extent and the affected people develop diabetes. Physical activity can also prevent diabetes or alleviate the disease via IL6 production, explained Donath and colleagues. (fp)

Also read:
Treat diabetes holistically
Numerous risk factors cause diabetes
Diabetes is not a fate

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