Eating almonds could help prevent diabetes and heart disease, according to a study.
The research found incorporating the nuts into our diets may help treat type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90 to 95 per cent of all cases.
As well as combating the condition, linked to obesity and physical inactivity, it could tackle cardiovascular disease, the report published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition said.
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing diseases in the world, and sufferers have a shortage of insulin or a decreased ability to use the hormone that allows glucose (sugar) to enter cells and be converted to energy.
When diabetes is not controlled, glucose and fats remain in the blood and over time, damage vital organs.
The study found consuming a diet rich in almonds may help improve insulin sensitivity and decrease LDL-cholesterol levels in those with pre-diabetes, a condition in which people have blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
Researchers looked at the effects of consuming an almond-enriched diet on 65 adults with pre-diabetes (48 women and 17 men) with an average age in the mid-50s.
The participants were split up, and the group on the almond-enriched diet showed greater improvements in insulin sensitivity and clinically significant reductions in LDL-cholesterol compared with the nut-free group.
Dr Michelle Wien, assistant research professor in nutrition at Loma Linda University's School of Public Health, said, “We have made great strides in chronic disease research from evidence of effective treatment to evidence of effective prevention.”
The principal researcher for the study, conducted at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, added, “It is promising for those with risk factors for chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, that dietary changes may help to improve factors that play a potential role in the disease development.”
An estimated 55 million people in Europe have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the figure is expected to rise to 66 million by 2030.
There is no known way to prevent type 1 diabetes, which may be autoimmune, genetic, or environmental. It accounts for five per cent of all cases. Type 2 diabetes most often occurs in people older than 40.
Around 60 million people in Europe have pre-diabetes. People with the condition have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes.
Almonds are cholesterol-free and compared with other nuts, they are the highest in six essential nutrients – fibre, magnesium, protein, potassium, copper and vitamin E.
Experts have suggested that an intensive lifestyle intervention helps individuals with type 2 diabetes lose weight and keep it off, along with improving fitness, control of blood glucose levels and risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Improving blood glucose control and cardiovascular risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes is critical in preventing long-term complications of the disease.
The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) Research Group conducted a multicenter randomized clinical trial comparing the effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention to diabetes support and education among 5,145 overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes.
Of these, 2,570 were assigned to the lifestyle intervention, a combination of diet modification and physical activity designed to induce a 7 percent weight loss in the first year and maintain it in subsequent years. The 2,575 individuals assigned to the diabetes support and education group were invited to three group sessions each year. On average, across the four-year period, individuals in the lifestyle intervention group lost a significantly larger percentage of their weight than did those in the diabetes support group.
They also experienced greater improvements in fitness, hemoglobin A1c level (a measure of blood glucose), blood pressure and levels of high-density lipoprotein. Individuals in the diabetes support group, on the other hand, experienced greater reductions in low-density lipoprotein, owing to greater use of cholesterol-lowering medications in this group.
The report was published in the September 27 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Diabetic kidney disease (nephropathy), a common complication of diabetes, may respond to a dietary supplement. Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia found that chromium reduced inflammation associated with diabetic kidney disease in mice.
It has long been known that chromium has a role in glucose (sugar) metabolism by boosting the effects of insulin. Insulin is secreted by cells in the pancreas in response to increased levels of glucose in the blood, and it provides cells with glucose for energy.
The results of this new study suggest that chromium may play another part in diabetes. Researchers used three groups of mice: one lean, healthy group and two groups that were genetically engineered to be obese and have diabetes. The healthy mice and one group of diabetic mice were fed regular rodent food while the remaining group received a diet enriched with chromium picolinate, a form that is more easily absorbed by the body.
During the six months of the study, the researchers found that the untreated diabetic mice excreted nearly ten times more albumin than the healthy mice, which was expected. However, the treated diabetic mice excreted about 50 percent less albumin than their untreated diabetic counterparts. Albuminuria (protein in the urine) is a sign of kidney disease.
After six months, the mice were euthanized and tissue samples from the kidneys were examined. The untreated mice had cytokines (interleukin 6 and interleukin 17) associated with inflammation and an enzyme (IDO) that regulates the production of the cytokines. The treated mice had reduced levels of the cytokines compared with the untreated group.
Much research has been done on the relationship between chromium, insulin, and blood sugar levels, as well as use of the mineral in weight loss. Some experts claim that chromium deficiency is a cause of type 2 diabetes and obesity and that supplementation can help prevent and treat both conditions.
The investigators in the current study, which was discussed at the 2010 American Physiological Society conference, concluded that chromium picolinate reduced inflammation in the treated diabetic mice by affecting the activity of the cytokines and IDO. Further research is needed to more clearly define chromium’s role in diabetes and in diabetic kidney disease.
American Physiological Society
Pancreatic tumor cells use fructose to divide and proliferate, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that challenges the common wisdom that all sugars are the same.Tumor cells fed both glucose and fructose used the two sugars in two different ways, the team at the University of California Los Angeles found.
They said their finding, published in the journal Cancer Research, may help explain other studies that have linked fructose intake with pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest cancer types. “These findings show that cancer cells can readily metabolize fructose to increase proliferation,” Dr. Anthony Heaney of UCLA's Jonsson Cancer Center and colleagues wrote. “They have major significance for cancer patients given dietary refined fructose consumption, and indicate that efforts to reduce refined fructose intake or inhibit fructose-mediated actions may disrupt cancer growth.”
Americans take in large amounts of fructose, mainly in high fructose corn syrup, a mix of fructose and glucose that is used in soft drinks, bread and a range of other foods. Politicians, regulators, health experts and the industry have debated whether high fructose corn syrup and other ingredients have been helping make Americans fatter and less healthy.
Too much sugar of any kind not only adds pounds, but is also a key culprit in diabetes, heart disease and stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Several states, including New York and California, have weighed a tax on sweetened soft drinks to defray the cost of treating obesity-related diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The American Beverage Association, whose members include Coca-Cola (KO.N) and Kraft Foods (KFT.N) have strongly, and successfully, opposed efforts to tax soda. The industry has also argued that sugar is sugar.
Heaney said his team found otherwise. They grew pancreatic cancer cells in lab dishes and fed them both glucose and fructose. Tumor cells thrive on sugar but they used the fructose to proliferate. “Importantly, fructose and glucose metabolism are quite different,” Heaney's team wrote. “I think this paper has a lot of public health implications. Hopefully, at the federal level there will be some effort to step back on the amount of high fructose corn syrup in our diets,” Heaney said in a statement.
Now the team hopes to develop a drug that might stop tumor cells from making use of fructose.
U.S. consumption of high fructose corn syrup went up 1,000 percent between 1970 and 1990, researchers reported in 2004 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
According to UCSF Professor Michael German, MD, who is also the senior author of the paper, tryptophan hydroxylase (Tph1), the enzyme that produces serotonin from tryptophan increased by as much 1000-fold during the early pregnancy. The researchers found that inhibition of serotonin synthesis by restricting the intake of tryptophan in pregnant mice blocked beta cell proliferation and resulted in the development of glucose intolerance and gestational diabetes in the mice.
The research indicates that anything that affects the production of serotonin, such as drugs, diet or genetic inheritance may affect the risk of developing gestational diabetes and possibly the long-term risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Serotonin has been widely studied as a neurotransmitter in the brain for its effects on appetite and mood, especially depression. Since it also influences the insulin production, this could explain why some patients with gestational diabetes experience depression. This would also explain the effect of some classes of psychiatric medications on diabetes.
The study will be published in the upcoming issue of “Nature Medicine” and was published online on June 27, 2010.
Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a condition characterised by central obesity, hypertension, and disturbed glucose and insulin metabolism. The syndrome has been linked to increased risks of both type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Gut microflora and metabolic syndrome
“The recent discovery by our group that patients feeding a fat-enriched diet develop diabetes and obesity through changes of their intestinal microflora has led us to envision innovative strategies aiming to hamper the development of the deleterious intestinal bacterial ecology observed during metabolic diseases,” said Professor Remy Burcelin of INSERM, who led the study.
The current study involved administering the probiotic strain B420 to diabetic mice on a high-fat diet. According to the researchers, the probiotic improved the fasting glycaemia and restored the glucose turnover rate to the level of the control mice fed with normal chow.
“Importantly, the probiotic treatment reduced the fasted insulin levels, but improved the insulin secretion upon glucose challenge, indicating an improved metabolic flexibility and restoration of normal glucose metabolism, and a potential beneficial effect on metabolic syndrome,” said Danisco.
The company added that the beneficial effect of B420 is mediated by a reduction of the pro-inflammatory molecule, plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS). “B420 changes intestinal mucosal microbiota and reduces the efflux of LPS into plasma, thereby reducing inflammation and improving insulin metabolism,” it said.
Probiotics and obesity
A breakthrough paper published in Nature in December 2006 reported that microbial populations in the gut are different between obese and lean people, and that when the obese people lost weight their microflora reverted back to that observed in a lean person, suggesting that obesity may have a microbial component.
More findings on the topic have since trickled through the scientific web. At a scientific symposium organised by the Beneo Group in April 2008, Dr. Kieran Touhy from the University of Reading noted that obese animals have significantly lower bifidobacteria levels than their lean counterparts, which suggests potential for prebiotic fibres since the growth of these bacteria is selectively promoted by inulin and fructooligosaccharides.
Dr. Nathalie Delzenne from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and Dr. Robert Welch from the University of Ulster presented results from animal and human studies, respectively, which indicated the potential of prebiotic supplementation to regulated food intake.
“This is an interesting new research area which may open up new opportunities for functional foods in the future,” said Dr Julian Stowell, head of scientific affairs for Danisco's Health and Nutrition Platform.
To determine whether intermittent hypoxia (IH) and chronic hypoxia (CH) would have different metabolic effects, Dr. Lee and colleagues fitted adult male mice with arterial and venous catheters for continuous rapid blood monitoring of glucose and insulin sensitivity.
They then exposed the mice to either seven hours of IH, in which treatment, oxygen levels oscillated, reaching a low of about 5 percent once a minute, or CH, in which they were exposed to oxygen at a constant rate of 10 percent, and compared each treatment group to protocol-matched controls.
When compared to the control group, the IH mice demonstrated impaired glucose tolerance and reduced insulin sensitivity; the CH group, however, showed only a reduction in glucose tolerance but not insulin sensitivity compared to controls. “Both intermittent hypoxia and continuous hypoxia exposed mice exhibited impaired glucose tolerance, but only the intermittent hypoxia exposed animals demonstrated a reduction in insulin sensitivity,” said Euhan John Lee, M.D., a fellow at the Medical Center.
“The intermittent hypoxia of sleep apnea and the continuous hypoxia of altitude are conditions of hypoxic stress that are known to modulate glucose and insulin homeostasis. Although both forms of hypoxia worsen glucose tolerance, this research demonstrated that the increase in insulin resistance that accompanies intermittent hypoxia, or sleep apnea, is greater than that seen with continuous hypoxia, or altitude,” explained Dr. Lee.
The specific finding that intermittent, but not continuous, hypoxia induced insulin resistance was not expected.
Increased generation of reactive oxygen species, initiation of pro-inflammatory pathways, elevated sympathetic activity, or upregulation of insulin counter-regulatory hormones in IH may contribute to the greater development of insulin resistance in those mice versus those exposed to continuous hypoxia.
“As sleep apnea continues to rise with the rate of obesity, it will be increasingly important to understand both the independent and interactive effects of both morbidities on the development of metabolic disorders. This research demonstrated that intermittent hypoxic exposure can cause changes in insulin sensitivity and insulin secretion, which may have important consequences in metabolically vulnerable diabetic patients who present with co-morbid sleep apnea,” said Dr. Lee. (ANI)