Another study underscoring the importance of the sunshine vitamin has found that low vitamin D levels in obese children could be a precursor to the development of type 2 diabetes.
View the news story here: Vitamin D Council > News.
View the range of vitamin D supplements.
One of the fastest growing health problems facing us is diabetes. A brief look at the statistics (from Diabetes UK) for the UK clearly reflects a worrying trend with the year on year prevalence of diabetes on the steady increase. The chart below, constructed from figures readily available from Diabetes UK clearly shows the trend.
While diabetics should never radically change their treatment plan on their own, fascinating new results have just been published showing how powerful diet can be in influencing this growing health crises. Researchers from Newcastle University have clearly shown that a strict low calorie diet can actually reverse the condition by normalizing blood glucose levels, reducing cholesterol levels and even stimulate the pancreas’s insulin producing cells (beta cells) to return to normal!
However, this was a small-scale study and involved just 11 people; 9 men and 2 women. The participants followed a very low energy (calorie) diet based on a special liquid diet formula along with 3 portions of non-starchy vegetables so that the total daily energy intake was about 600 kcal. They were also encouraged to drink around 2 liters of water a day and avoid all sugary or high-energy drinks.
At the end of the 8-week diet trial the study demonstrates that the twin defects of beta cell failure and insulin resistance that underlie type 2 diabetes can be reversed by the very low energy diet alone. Over the trial the average blood glucose levels of those involved fell from 9.2mmol/l to 5.7mmol/l.
While this study involved a drastic dietary change and can’t be considered as a gold standard for managing type-2 diabetes on a daily basis it does dramatically highlight the importance of diet and the power of modifying it. With 50% of diet control diabetics requiring insulin injections after 10 years of diagnosis long term management through diet modification and exercise would be the most sensible way forward for the UK type-2 diabetic population and especially for those with pre-diabetic or borderline test results. The full study was published in the June issue of the journal Diabetologia.
More on the growing prevalence of diabetes
Read Sugar Rush published in the Economist online. The number of adults with diabetes more than doubled between 1980 and 2008, according to a new study led by Professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial College London and Goodarz Danaei at Harvard University and published in the Lancet…
Type-2 diabetes is becoming or will become a real plague… With our increasing life expectancy and increasing body weight as we get older the tendency towards developing late onset problems in regulating our blood sugar metabolism appears to be an inevitable consequence.
However, those in the nutritional world have always advocated a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and low in refined (table sugar, white flour etc…) carbohydrates as a way to ward off this problem. The sad thing is, this type of advice is so run of the mill these days that the true impact of such a simple change often goes without a second thought; everyone knows that we should eat plenty of fruit and veg… so, whats new there?
Well… the latest research can now pot some numbers and ‘science’ behind these claims. In the August issue of the British Medical Journal a feature supporting the role of vegetables in diabetes prevention has hit the media. In a collaboration between the University of Otago in New Zealand and Imperial College in London the findings boost the status of lowly dietary greens. The BMJ’s editorial entitled can specific fruits and vegetables prevent diabetes? clearly points out that; “…an additional one and a half UK portions (roughly 120 g) daily of green leafy vegetables (for example, cabbage, brussel sprouts,broccoli, cauliflower, and spinach) has the potential to reduce the risk of diabetes by 14% independently of any effect of weight loss.” such a dietary change is not difficult to instigate and is good news for all those with a family history or those feeling overwhelmed by the more intensive dietary suggestions commonly promoted for diabetes prevention.
The study does underpin the need for good nutrition. Our modern diets are full and overloaded with excessive calories whilst being low in key nutrients that include trace minerals and antioxidants. Again, this is not a new concept but it appears that before such basic advice is taken seriously someone has to do the science to prove the point and then it hits the headlines (see the BBC news post), almost as some kind of new medical revelation!
For those interested, a full article on the subject of diet and type-2 diabetes prevention entitled Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: systematic review and meta-analysis can be downloaded by clicking here.
Vegetable based antioxidant formula
For a long time we have demonized red meat as the bringer of ills and cause of all manner of circulatory problems. However, can we still take this standpoint in the light of some ground-breaking research?
On the surface of it, red meat does look to be an issue when we consider heart health as an endpoint. Eating just 50g of processed meat per day (similar portion size as a hot-dog sausage) has been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by a massive 42% and increase your risk of diabetes, a commonly associated complication to heart disease, by 19%. The problem with making recommendations regarding meat intake comes from the fact that until now, processed red meat and unprocessed red meat have all been lumped together under one heading in studies. When we look deeper into the similarities and differences between the processed and unprocessed meats we find similar cholesterol levels but processed meats had up to 50% or more preservatives such as nitrates as unprocessed meat. Such a high preservative content looks to be responsible for the adverse health effects associated with processed meat products. A paper published this May in the journal Circulation is the first of its kind to actually separate processed from unprocessed meat consumption; the results are fascinating. The consumption of unprocessed meat was not associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease!
Naturally, such breaking is not indented to prompt or stimulate a surge in unprocessed red meat consumption but should reflect the importance of a food, that’s any foods, natural state. The study clearly identifies the addition of unnatural chemicals as a trigger for the food to behave differently once inside the human body. It’s important to keep in mind that along with the added nitrates already mentioned, processed meats also contain added sodium (salt) and even extra fat. We already know that excessive dietary salt elevates blood pressure and that the addition of chemicals such as nitrates promotes atherosclerosis (fatty hardening of the blood vessels) and insulin resistance (one of the causes of type-II diabetes) so it should not be such a surprise that processes meats trigger illness!
What the study underpins is that even a little red meat will probably do you no real harm if taken in it’s natural state and as part of a diet rich in variety and freshness and based in fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
High GI-index carbohydrates may trigger heart problems! No real surprise when you consider the effects these foods have on the type-II diabetes risk factors. Our diets are full of refined carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta and our intakes of sugar is ever increasing. It’s long been known that diabetes and heart disease go hand in hand but the idea that high GI foods could be an independent risk factor has come as a shock to many.
This large study looked at the volunteers’ diets and followed them up for almost eight years to see who developed coronary heart disease (CHD). CHD is a potentially dangerous fatty build-up in the arteries that supply the heart and can lead to a heart attack. The researchers found that women who ate higher levels of carbohydrates, particularly carbohydrates that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar (known as high-GI carbohydrates, see below), were at increased risk of developing CHD over the next eight years. The study’s main limitation is that it is difficult to rule out the possibility that other factors could have contributed to the effect observed. This study suggests that avoiding eating too much high-GI carbohydrate may help reduce the risk of heart disease, at least in women.
The researchers found that, among the study participants, the main sources of carbohydrates from high-GI foods were bread (60.8%), sugar or honey and jam (9.1%), pizza (5.4%) and rice (3.2%). The main sources of carbohydrates from low-GI foods were pasta (33.3%), fruit (23.5%) and cakes (18.6%).
In then end, the study concluded that “high dietary GL and carbohydrate intake from high-GI foods increase the overall risk of CHD in women but not men” in the Italian population they studied.
I received an email from a person who’s doctor told him that he was a borderline diabetic. He was told to change his diet and to loose weight but was not prescribed any medication. His question was “is there any natural remedies to help me avoid having to take drugs?”
It sounds like you may be developing what is known as Type-2 diabetes. There are in fact two quite different forms of this illness, one that requires the use of insulin by injection and the other that can be controlled by diet alone or in more difficult cases the use of drugs taken in pill form. These are known as Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes respectively. Estimates indicate that there are well over 1 million diabetics in the UK with a similar number or people with the problem but going undiagnosed. The problem lies in the fact that many of the early symptoms of diabetes are quite mild and could be brushed aside. This is especially the case in Type-2 diabetes. Type-1 sufferers tend to be diagnosed in childhood and require insulin injections to replace the deficiency they have. For most, once stability is achieved this keeps their condition in good order. A few, however, do experience great difficulties in regulating their balance and may require a complex mix if insulin types. For those finding life difficult and need extra help and support Diabetes UK offers a great service, their web site is worth checking out. Once the dose balance is achieved they normally manage their problem well with occasional check ups from their GP or diabetic nurse. Type-2 diabetics on the other hand present more of a problem since the condition may have been developing over many years and be associated with other health problems such as obesity and heart disease. Picking up Type-2 diabetics can be tricky since some of the early signs may simply be fatigue and tiredness, an increased tendency to pass urine at night and an increased thirst. Other signs include recurrent thrush and persistent itch and in some cases unexplained weight loss. You can imagine that very few of us would take ourselves to the doctor because we are feeling a bit tired and fatigued and probably put any night time trips to the toilet down to drinking more in the evening! Its only when these symptoms escalate or are associated with additional problems that enough is enough and a check up is called for.
Unlike Type-1 diabetes, where insulin is deficient or absent, Type-2 sufferers may actually over-produce insulin! This over production of the hormone occurs because the receptors on cells in the body that normally respond to the action of insulin fail to be stimulated by it – this is known as insulin resistance. In response to this more insulin may be produced. However this overproduction eventually exhausts the insulin-manufacturing cells in the pancreas and they pack up. When this happens there is simply insufficient insulin available and the insulin that is available may be abnormal and therefore doesn’t work properly. This all sounds rather inevitable but many Type-2 patients never reach this point because they take their health into their own hands and change their diet and lifestyle. As simple as this sounds it can have dramatic health promoting effects on the body and even reverse some early insulin resistance symptoms. This is especially the case if you are over weight. Keep this in mind; the bigger your body fat mass the more cell surface area there is for insulin to act on and insulin resistance is a common result. Reduce your body fat mass and your insulin becomes more effective.
To help you on the way consider following a low glycaemic diet. There are plenty of books on this available at Amazon and the foods and recipes suggested are very suitable for a Type-2 diabetic. A look at Diabetes UK website will give plenty of online advise and diet recommendations as well as an online CarbCounter!
Also think about taking a supplement containing the trace mineral chromium. This has the ability to improve the sensitivity of your bodies cells to insulin; an important aspect of early diabetes where a situation known as insulin resistance develops. It’s a safe supplement and for many a very effective dietary aid. I normally suggest taking 1 capsule (200mcg) with lunch and dinner. However, diabetics on prescribed medication should seek professional advise before starting any dietary supplements.
Information on global incidences of diabetes’s
Nutritional factors that influence insulin (Click the manual download button)
The effect of chromium on diabetes (Click the manual download button)