Diabetes is characterized by a progressive loss of pancreatic beta cells, the same cells that produce insulin and thus maintain the right level of sugar in the blood. None of the medications used to treat diabetes stop this process. Preventing the progressive loss of beta cells and the onset of diabetes remains a priority today.
Researchers from the ULB Center for Diabetes Research, Faculty of Medicine - Alexandra Coomans de Brachene, Miriam Cnop and Decio L. Eizirik - in collaboration with the Laboratory of Biometry and Nutrition Applied to Exercise, Faculty of Motor Sciences and other colleagues from the ULB, evaluated the protective effect or not of physical exercise on beta cells. They conducted a study on 82 people, with various profiles, invited to perform different types of exercises and followed for 8 to 12 weeks.
Researchers conclude: regular exercise does appear to protect pancreatic beta cells from the stresses that contribute to diabetes.
After training, the blood serum of the 82 participants showed significant protection, regardless of the type of exercise or the profile of the participants (gender, age, different body types, type 1 or 2 diabetes). And this protection lasts up to 2 months.
Supported by the Brussels Capital Region - Innoviris Bridge grant DiaType - this study is published in the journal Diabetologia.
Exercise may therefore be recommended in the future as a non-pharmaceutical intervention to protect pancreatic beta cells and delay the onset of diabetes. A clinical study will be conducted with researchers in the UK and Finland to test this hypothesis.