Indolepropionic acid in the gut also helps the pancreas produce more insulin, which is used to break down sugars in food, researchers at the University of Eastern Finland have discovered.
In turn, the gut produces more of the acid when we eat wholegrain and fibre produce. Eating less saturated fats also helps encourage the production of the acid, the researchers say.
The researchers discovered the important role the acid plays in diabetes when they assessed 200 people who were all overweight and were not processing glucose, the blood sugar, properly.
Although they were all candidates for diabetes, only half of them actually developed the disease. The one big difference was that those who remained diabetes-free had high levels of indolepropionic acid in their gut.