Life-changing improvements in diabetes care for people with Type 2 diabetes are being studied at The University of Roehampton thanks to a grant from Diabetes UK.

Dr Astrid Hauge-Evans, and her colleagues, Dr Adele Costabile and Dr Giulia Corona, from the Department of Life Sciences have been awarded £15,000 to study “helpful” gut bacteria as a way of treating Type 2 diabetes.

Millions of people are living with bacteria inside them, particularly in the gut, which contains both friendly and hostile bacteria.

Getting the right balance between these is important for overall health. The bacteria is different in people with and without Type 2 diabetes.

Dr Hauge-Evans’s research will aim to find out if a diet high in wholegrains could alter these bacteria in Type 2 diabetes and, in turn, protect insulin-producing cells.

In the future, this could provide a new diet-based way to treat or prevent Type 2 diabetes, helping to reduce the risk of serious complications and promote healthier living.

Her study is titled Interactions between gut microbiota in type 2 diabetes and beneficial wholegrain polyphenols with subsequent impact on pancreatic islet function.

People with Type 2 diabetes don’t produce enough insulin or the insulin they produce doesn’t work properly (known as insulin resistance). About 90 per cent of people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which is treated with a healthy diet and increased physical activity. In addition, tablets and/or insulin can be required.

Research is now more important than ever before, as recent figures from Diabetes UK show the number of people being diagnosed with diabetes has doubled over the last 20 years.

Now almost 3.7 million people in the UK have been diagnosed with diabetes, and 12.3 million are at an increased risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Dr Astrid Hauge-Evans said: “Our gut bacteria are important for our health but we don’t know so much about how they affect our ability to make insulin and protect insulin-producing cells.

"This is central for prevention and management of Type 2 diabetes and we are very grateful for this opportunity from Diabetes UK to investigate the impact of dietary wholegrain and bacteria on health in Type 2 diabetes."

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said: “Our research funding has been behind some of the greatest transformations in diabetes care over the past 80 years, but we recognise there is still a great deal to do. That’s why we continue to invest in high quality diabetes research year on year.”