Checking blood sugar levels
Could we be getting it wrong when avoiding dairy products in a bid to be healthy? That’s what Dr Fumiaki Imamura and Dr Nita Forouhi from the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge hope to find out. Here Fumiaki tells us about their latest research and why it may be time to question the link between high-fat dairy products and conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Many people believe that low-fat dairy products are healthier than high-fat dairy products. Indeed, many public health guidelines recommend low-fat dairy over high-fat dairy. However, our latest research, published in PLOS Medicine, found that people who had higher levels of biomarkers of dairy fat had a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Biomarkers are tell-tale molecules in the body that can be measured accurately and consistently, and act as indicators of dietary consumption. Read more
What can people do to improve their health after they’ve been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes? This question is becoming all the more urgent as cases of diabetes continue to rise. In this Diabetes Awareness Week (9-14 June), Paul Browne, communications managerat the MRC Epidemiology Unit in Cambridge, rounds up some recent research from the unit suggesting that small lifestyle changes made soon after diagnosis can make a big difference.
Research published this week has highlighted the increased number of people in the UK with pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes, reinforcing the urgent need to find ways of preventing and treating the disease.
We know that changes to diet are important for controlling blood glucose levels and reducing risk factors for cardiovascular disease such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels.
But there hasn’t been much research into whether lifestyle changes made soon after diagnosis with type 2 diabetes, can result in long-term health benefits. There has also been a lack of good-quality evidence for the benefit of combining lifestyle changes and medication, over and above medication alone.
This is important because for many individuals, the most challenging aspect to managing their diabetes is adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. They may believe that lifestyle is less important than medication, or that the health benefits are not sufficient to justify the effort and disruption to their daily lives. Some may even feel that taking medication such as statins for cholesterol means that they can disregard dietary advice.
Ultimately it comes down to a simple question: “Will this make a difference?” Read more
Oliver receives his certificate from David Willetts, Minister of State for Universities and Science
Why does excess sugar in the bloodstream cause nerve damage in diabetes? In his article commended for the 2013 Max Perutz Science Writing Award, Oliver Freeman, a PhD student at the University of Manchester, tells us how he’s trying to find out.
Strewn across my desk are big sheets of A3 paper. Like sprawling cobwebs, lines criss-cross all over them, splattered with a traffic light system. These are diagrams showing the pathways of metabolism. Built up over decades, they describe what happens to chemicals in your cells, and how cells make energy from them.
The traffic light system is for me. It tells me which chemicals go down (red), which do not change (yellow) and which go up (green). I am interested in diabetes, and more specifically the impact that it has on energy generation in the nervous system. The colours denote the differences between diabetic nerves and healthy nerves. Read more