Food and Diabetes Studies Show Surprises

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Contrary to media myths, much of the best medical research is being done far from corporate labs. Here are some interesting reports on food and diabetes from around the world.

A joint study out of Japan and Korea shows that a pigment found in salmon may protect against diabetes complications. The pigment is called astaxanthin, and it gives salmon its pretty pink color. Apparently, this pigment acts as an antioxidant and may protect against the development of diabetic kidney disease.

Previous studies have found that astaxanthin protects beta cells against oxidation, at least in mice.

High glucose levels can cause oxidation of cells. Oxidation is what causes rust on a pipe, but in this case, the pipes are small blood vessels. You don’t want them rusted. Oxidation may be a major contributor to diabetes complications.

The new study was written by researchers at Busan Women’s College in Korea and the University of Toyama in Japan. It was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The scientists wrote that astaxanthin appears to reduce oxidative stress, inflammation, and apoptosis (cell death).

Another Japanese study finds that eating meat twice a week keeps seniors from becoming frail. In this study, published in the journal Gerontology, Yasuyuki Nakamura, MD, PhD, and colleagues at Kyoto Women’s University assessed meat, fish, and egg intake, as well as other lifestyle factors, in roughly 2300 men and women. Participants were 47 to 59 years old and independently mobile at the start of the study. They were followed for 19 years.

Those who ate meat at least twice weekly were more likely to maintain mobility than those who ate less meat. Nakamura’s team believes that occasionally eating meat may help seniors preserve muscle mass.

Soy Versus Milk Protein
Researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada, found that consumption of 40 grams of soy protein per day resulted in significant reductions in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and in the ratio of LDL to HDL (“good”) cholesterol. The results were published in the Journal of Nutrition.

The study participants were 29 people with Type 2 diabetes who were free of complications and not taking medicines to lower blood glucose or cholesterol. Some were given soy protein and others milk protein. After 57 days, the groups underwent a 28-day washout period and then were switched (“crossed over.”)

Researchers concluded that, “This study provides evidence for soy as a dietary preventive strategy for adults with type-2 diabetes, to reduce their cardiovascular disease risk and, in so doing, improve their quality, and possibly length, of life.”

However, one might ask if it’s really meaningful to compare milk protein to soy protein. A comparison of soy protein to a vegetarian diet might have been a fairer test.

Wheat Intolerance
Another Canadian study indicates that wheat intolerance is associated with Type 1 diabetes. Scientists at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute and the University of Ottawa, led by Fraser Scott, PhD, tested 42 people with Type 1 diabetes and found that nearly half had an abnormal immune response to wheat proteins.

Scott’s team said this research is the first to clearly show that immune cells called T cells from people with Type 1 diabetes are more likely to overreact to wheat. The study also showed the overreaction is linked to genes associated with Type 1 diabetes.

This is very interesting, although long-suspected. A protein called gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats, is associated with all kinds of autoimmune diseases in some people. Type 1 may be one of them. Scott’s study shows that proteins other than gluten may also be involved. The study appears in the journal Diabetes.

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