Good Diet May Limit Poor Effect of Sitting on Glucose Levels

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Good Diet May Limit Poor Effect of Sitting on Glucose Levels

Sitting for prolonged periods is known to raise blood glucose levels in many people — but this effect may be at least partially reversed by a good diet, according to a new study published in the Journal of Diabetes.

To look at the effects of sitting on blood glucose levels and how a person’s diet was linked to this effect, researchers used data from the 2011–2012 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle Study (AusDiab) on self-reported TV viewing and dietary habits. There were 3,081 participants included in the analysis, with an average age of 57.8, none of whom had clinically diagnosed diabetes or cardiovascular disease. As part of the study, participants had both their fasting glucose level and two-hour glucose level (after consuming a dose of glucose) measured.

The researchers identified three main dietary patterns among participants based on their reported food intake, as noted in a Healio article: prudent (healthy, with lots of fruits and vegetables), Western (unhealthy, with lots of processed foods and red meat), and mixed (largely consisting of fish, grains and poultry). For each dietary pattern, participants were divided into four groups based on how closely their reported diet fit the pattern.

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Effects of sitting and diet on blood glucose levels

The average daily TV watching time for all participants was 1.8 hours per day, with 33% watching more than two hours. The median fasting blood glucose level was 95.4 md/dl, while the median two-hour glucose level was 97.2 mg/dl. But participants in the top group for following a “prudent” diet tended to have a lower two-hour glucose level — 93.6 mg/dl, compared with 100.8 mg/dl in the bottom group. A greater daily TV viewing time was also linked to a higher two-hour glucose level. After adjusting for age, sex, occupation, physical activity, education, marital status, total caloric intake, smoking, waist size and family history of diabetes, TV viewing was still linked to a higher two-hour glucose level, while following a “prudent” diet was linked to a lower two-hour glucose level.

Not surprisingly, the lowest two-hour glucose levels were seen in adults with the lowest daily TV viewing and the highest adherence to a “prudent” diet. But participants with higher TV viewing who closely followed a “prudent” diet had lower two-hour glucose levels than those with similar TV viewing who didn’t closely follow this dietary pattern.

The researchers speculated that the high level of antioxidants from fruits and vegetables found in the “prudent” diet might offer some protection against oxidative stress, which is linked to both inactivity and higher glucose levels. “Following a prudent dietary pattern may attenuate the adverse effect of TV viewing on two‐hour plasma glucose,” they concluded, while noting that more research is needed to confirm the effects of sitting and diet on glucose levels, and to learn more about what’s going on inside the body.

Want to learn more about eating well with diabetes? Read “Improving Your Recipes: One Step at a Time,” “Top Tips for Healthier Eating” and “Cooking With Herbs and Spices.”

Living with type 2 diabetes? Check out our free type 2 e-course!

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

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A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

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