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High-Protein Diet Improves Glucose Tolerance

May explain improved tolerance in diabetics on a high-protein diet

THURSDAY, Oct. 16 (HealthDay News) -- A high-protein diet improves glucose tolerance and changes the distribution of organs producing glucose, possibly explaining the improved glucose tolerance observed in type 2 diabetics on a high-protein diet, according to the results of a study published online Oct. 9 in Endocrinology.

Bruno Pillot, from the Universite de Lyon in France, and colleagues fed male rats either a high-protein diet (50 percent protein) or normal (23.5 percent protein) diet to examine the effect of a high-protein diet on endogenous glucose production and the insulin sensitivity of glucose metabolism.

The researchers found that the high-protein diet dramatically induced the expression of glucose-6-phosphatase and phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase, the main regulatory gluconeogenic genes, in the kidney but not the liver. This resulted in a marked increase in glucose release from the kidney. The high-protein diet also relieved the suppression of endogenous glucose production by insulin and spared glycogen production in the liver while having no effect on glucose uptake, the authors report.

"Combined with the previously reported induction of gluconeogenesis in the small intestine, the present work strongly suggests that a redistribution of glucose production among gluconeogenic organs might occur upon protein feeding," Pillot and colleagues conclude. "These data shed a new light on the improvement of glucose tolerance, previously observed upon increasing the amount of protein in the diet, in type 2 diabetic patients."

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