Over the past two weeks, I’ve highlighted some of the nutrition-related studies that have been published over the summer. I hope you’ve found at least a few of them to be helpful. It’s actually amazing how much research is done and published on a fairly regular basis.
While some of this research is not applicable or of interest to everyone, it’s good to know that strides are being made to understand diabetes that much more. This week, I’ll wrap up our series on nutrition news by focusing on some recent diabetes-specific studies. But I’ll still aim to periodically provide you with news bites that I think you would find of interest.
- Mediterranean diet may be the way to go for people with diabetes.
I’ve written before about the Mediterranean diet, an eating style based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, legumes, nuts, and olive oil (with a little wine thrown in!). A study out of Second University of Naples, Italy, compared the Mediterranean diet with a low-fat diet. (The Mediterranean diet was lower in carbohydrate than the low-fat diet). Two hundred fifteen people were taught how to prepare meals at home and randomly advised to follow to one of the two diets. After four years, only 44% of the people on the Mediterranean diet required diabetes medicine compared to 70% of those on the low-fat diet. The Mediterranean diet group also lost more weight and inches off their waist and had a greater increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol and larger decreases in triglycerides (blood fats) than those on the low-fat diet. The researchers concluded that lifestyle measures really do help to improve diabetes. (But we knew that already, right?)
- DASH diet may help prevent diabetes.
You probably know someone who is at risk for developing diabetes. If so, you might want to share this information with them. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension, or DASH, diet has shown promise in preventing people from getting Type 2 diabetes. The DASH diet focuses on eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, while minimizing the consumption of animal protein and saturated fat. We’ve already learned that the DASH diet can effectively help to control blood pressure levels. In a study published in the August issue of Diabetes Care, researchers at the University of South Carolina studied 862 people who were part of a clinical trial. Over a period of five years, roughly one out of six participants developed diabetes. Researchers found that white (but not black or Hispanic) participants who followed an eating plan using concepts from the DASH diet had a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. Looks like the DASH diet does more than just lower blood pressure!
- Regular drinkers may be more likely to exercise.
OK, this study isn’t specifically about diabetes. But because being physically active is so important for those with diabetes, I thought it would be good to mention. In the September/October issue of the American Journal of Health Promotion, researchers at the University of Miami analyzed data that was obtained from a telephone survey of 230,000 Americans. They found that moderate and heavy alcohol consumers tended to exercise longer than those who were light drinkers or who didn’t drink at all. This was true for both men and women. What’s the connection? It could be that heavier drinkers want a way to burn off calories from alcohol, or that those who drink are more likely to be “thrill seekers” and be more active, in general. I should mention that this study was an observational study and not intended to learn if alcohol drinkers are more likely to exercise. Also, it should be noted that one shouldn’t start drinking in the hopes of suddenly becoming more physically active!
- New drug on the horizon that fights fat and reverses diabetes.
Perhaps that magic pill will soon become a reality. Researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and Kyoto University in Japan have published a study in the journal Chemistry & Biology indicating that they’ve developed a drug, fatostatin, which seems to stop the body from making fat. Obese mice were injected with fatostatin, which seems to work by lowering the activity of genes that produce cholesterol and fatty acids. Fatostatin prevented the mice from gaining weight and blocked increases in blood glucose and liver fat, even when the mice showed little change in their eating habits. After four weeks, these mice weighed 12% less and had blood glucose 70% lower than at the start of the study. Next, rats and rabbits will be given fatostatin… Will humans be after that? We’ll have to wait and see!