Ancestral diets can increase risk of diabetes, says new study

Ever wonder why you are obese or suffer from cardiovascular disease(s) even after following a proper diet? A new study led by an Indian scientist says that poor diet followed by the ancestors is to be blamed for.

Anandwardhan A. Hardikar, the associate professor at the University of Sydney along with associates from the National Centre for Cell Science, KEM Hospital and the DYP Medical College, Pune disclosed that middle class people from India and other developing countries are more vulnerable to type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases than the Western Caucasians.


The research team conducted a 12-year study of two groups of rats. The first group stayed malnourished for 50 generations and then was introduced to a “normal” diet for two generations. The second group also known as the “control” group, on the other hand, followed a normal diet for 52 generations.

The research showed that even after following a normal diet, the successors of the first group did not experience epigenetic alterations created by their malnourished ancestors. In fact, they were eight times more vulnerable to have diabetes and multiple metabolic defects in comparison to their counter parts from the control group.

The epigenetic structure of the malnourished ancestors did not reimburse for the dietetic changes that their successors introduced in their diets. This finding showed that the successor’s bodies were still shaped to survive undernourishment, making them preserve fat in a way that made them more vulnerable to obesity and its subsequent diseases than the populations’ who followed a “normal” diet throughout.

Hardikar emphasized that lower Vitamin B12 levels in the malnourished rats could also be a sign of this trend.

He added, “Human studies from Ranjan Yajnik’s group at KEM Hospital in Pune, India have demonstrated that low circulating B12 and high folate levels are associated with insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.”

Unlike the previous studies that informed that a high-fat containing diet causes obesity, this research illustrated that following a “normal” diet also can lead to obesity, if the ancestors had been malnourished for many generations.

One of Australia’s national health priorities is abating the risk of diabetes and obesity, and this research throws light that the influential factors need to be recognized as the country is one of the developed nations that face increasing population every year from developing nations.

Hardikar showed hope that additional research in learning the gut microbes that are chief manufacturers of Vitamin B12 in human bodies, “and/or dietary supplementation with Vitamin B12 and other micronutrients, could reduce the risk of metabolic diseases in the coming generations.”

The discovery could illustrate predictions that more than 70 percent of the global load of type 2 diabetes will drop on people from developing nations by 2030.

The study titled “Multigenerational Undernutrition and Diabetes” was published on July 10 in the journal Cell Metabolism.

According to a report by Scientific American, gut microbes’ function extends beyond just digesting food. In fact, they determine whether an individual is slim or obese as they change the method of preserving fat, the way human body equalizes glucose levels in blood and the way human body reacts to hormones, which make an individual feel full or hungry. The incorrect combination of microbes could lead to diabetes and obesity from birth.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.9 billion adults (39 %) – aged 18 years and/or older, were found to be overweight in 2014. Out of these 600 million (13 %) were obese.

In 2013, 42 million children; aged below 5 years were found to be overweight or obese.

As for diabetes, WHO reported that in 2014 worldwide occurrence of diabetes was guesstimated to be 9 percent in adults after approximately 1.5 million lives were lost in 2012.

It also predicted that diabetes will become the 7th foremost cause of death by 2030.


  1. I wonder how many sugar diseases diabetics it was in 1900 compared to now? Figures from 1965 to 2011 shows that sugar intake have increased by 34% and those are without numbers from high fructose sugars.

  2. Dr. Anisetti Thammayya

    This amounts to potted thinking. Ancestral diets are healthier than the modern junk and fast foods. Diabetes is an autoimmune disease. By boosting immune system these autoimmune diseases can be avoided. It is not wise to blame ancestral diet. Modern life style is responsible for human maladies. Early to bed and early to rise, daily physical activity, diet composed of good amount of vegetables, fruits and whole grains, daily excretion of body wastes through swear, urine, breath and stool, and positive emotions will ward off many diseases because of body’s elevated immunity. This new study is an advertisement in the guise of news.

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