Type 2 diabetes is on the increase: currently around 4.7 people have diabetes and of those, around 90% have type 2. This disease causes disability because of the organs that can be affected. Scientists are working on understanding as much about the disease as they can, in order to find new ways to help patients. Here are three studies that have been published this year:
Reducing carbohydrates and increasing protein could help people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes
A team of scientists from the University of Copenhagen have found that people with type 2 diabetes can improve their regulation of blood sugar levels, if they follow a diet reduced in carbohydrates and increased in protein and fat. This is opposite advice to that normally given to people who have been diagnosed with the disease. The results of the study was published in Diabetologia in 2019.
About 85% of patients who have been newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes are overweight, and they are often offered a diet which is focused on conventional weight loss, controlling calories, low fat and high carbohydrates, which have a low glycemic index. The participants in the study were asked to maintain their current weight.
The study was small: only 28 people took part for 12 weeks. For the first 6 weeks the participants were given the usual diet offered to diabetes patients, which was high carbohydrate but low glycemic index, then for the rest of the trial, the patients were offered a diet, reduced in carbohydrates, high in protein and moderately increased fat content. The diet types were offered to the participants, randomly.
The scientists found that the second type of diet helped increase regulation of blood sugar, both after meals and long-term (average blood sugar over 2 months). The high protein and moderate fat diet also reduced liver fat content and the effects of the diet seemed to benefit the type 2 diabetes patients, even if they did not lose weight.
The scientists suggested that more research was needed by larger studies to confirm the results.
Skytte, M.J., et al., A carbohydrate-reduced high-protein diet improves HbA1c and liver fat content in weight stable participants with type 2 diabetes: a randomised controlled trial, Diabetologia, 2019
Type 2 diabetes Progression could be slowed by vitamin D in new patients
A team of scientists from the University of Quebec have found that vitamin D may be able to slow type 2 diabetes progression in newly-diagnosed patients. The results of the study were published in the European Journal of Endocrinology in July 2019.
The study recruited 96 participants to a single-centre, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The participants were considered at high risk of diabetes or had been newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. They were either asked to take vitamin D3 (5000 IU) - a dose around 5-10 times the usual dose, or a placebo for 6 months. Their insulin sensitivity was assessed at the beginning and end of the trial.
Participants who received the vitamin D dose showed a significant improvement of insulin in muscle tissue after 6 months. Other studies have not been as successful, although these may have followed people who have had diabetes for longer.
The scientists suggested that future studies would need to evaluate whether the improvement due to vitamin D was due to individual clinical or genetic factors and also whether the positive effect on the metabolism was maintained long-term.
The scientists recommended that current vitamin D guidelines be followed because more research is needed for confirmation of their findings.
Gagnon, C., et al., Effects of 6-month vitamin D supplementation on insulin sensitivity and secretion: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, European Journal of Endocrinology, 2019
Women with prediabetes could benefit from football exercise training, claim scientists
Scientists from the University of Southern Denmark have found that football was an efficient type of exercise training for patients who had prediabetes, particularly females aged between 55-70. The results of their study were published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology.
27 participants of both genders were recruited into a randomised trial which compared a group which only received dietary advice for prediabetes, and a group that received dietary advice and took part in football training for an hour once a week for 16 weeks. The participants’ body composition, bone variables, blood pressure, blood lipid profile and peak oxygen uptake were measured before and after the study.
The football training proved to be particularly beneficial for the female participants of the trial, who showed improved cardiovascular health despite having no previous football experience. They also improved their metabolic and musculoskeletal fitness. Previous studies had not included women participants. The study was only short term, but the effect it had on the women was significant. The football training was gender-mixed and the high intensity beneficial for both sexes.
Mohr, M., Gender-dependent evaluation of football as medicine for prediabetes, European Journal of Applied Physiology, 2019; 119 (9)