Tag Archives: diet

Biomarkers Could Predict Best Diets

A new study, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, has indicated two biomarkers that can predict the efficacy of certain diets for weight loss: specifically, for people with prediabetes or diabetes.

Through an analysis of over 1,200 adults, researchers discovered that a person’s fasting blood glucose levels, fasting insulin levels, or both, could pinpoint which diets would most likely lead to weight loss. These biomarkers were particularly effective in determining which diets were best for people with pre-diabetes and diabetes.

Each year, millions of us attempt to lose weight through diets, but not all of us succeed. A new study has uncovered two biomarkers that could predict how effective certain diets will be for weight loss, particularly for people with prediabetes or diabetes.

Statistics from the American Diabetes Association indicate that approximately 29.1 million people in the Untied States have diabetes; estimates show that around 75 million people have pre-diabetes, yet almost 90% remain unaware. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the condition: the body is unable to effectively use the hormone insulin, which causes high blood glucose levels. For people with prediabetes, blood glucose levels remain higher than normal—yet not high enough to lead to a diagnosis of diabetes.

The researchers in the study believe that a person’s fasting blood glucose and insulin levels could be utilized to help identify the most effective diet for weight loss, after analyzing the data of three dietary clinical trials: the Diet, Obesity, and Genes trial, the OPUS Supermarket intervention (SHOPUS), and the Nutrient-gene interactions in human obesity (NUGENOB) trial. The subjects were all overweight; the researchers evaluated and assessed their fasting blood glucose levels, and fasting insulin levels, in order to determine whether the levels were associated with weight loss in response to certain diets.

These results symbolize a kind of breakthrough in personalized nutrition: among adults with prediabetes, the team found that a diet rich in whole grains, vegetables, and fruits was the most effective for weight loss. For example, in the SHOPUS trial, adults with prediabetes who followed a diet high in the aforementioned foods lost more weight than those who followed a controlled diet. For people with type 2 diabetes, the researchers found that a diet rich in plant-based, “healthy” fats, and low in carbohydrates, was most effective for weight loss.

The team reported that adding participants’ fasting insulin levels to the analysis further strengthened the identified correlations between diet and weight loss, confirming the hypothesis that fasting blood glucose and fasting insulin levels may be biomarkers for weight loss.

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Type 2 Diabetes & A Rigorous Diet

Some people with Type 2 diabetes were able to put the disease in remission without medication by following a rigorous diet plan, according to a study published today in The Lancet medical journal.

“Our findings suggest that even if you have had Type 2 diabetes for six years, putting the disease into remission is feasible,” Michael Lean, a professor from the University of Glasgow in Scotland who co-led the study, said in a statement.

The researchers looked at 149 participants who have had Type 2 diabetes for up to six years and monitored them closely as they underwent a liquid diet that provided only 825 to 853 calories per day for three to five months. The participants were then reintroduced to solid food and maintained a structured diet until the end of the yearlong study.

The researchers found that almost half of the participants (68 total) were able to put their diabetes in remission without the use of medication after one year. In addition, those who undertook the study also lost an average of more than 20 pounds. Thirty-two of the 149 participants in the study, however, dropped out of the program.

The study comes at a time when more than 100 million American adults are living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a report released earlier this year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Prediabetes was defined by the CDC as a condition that if not treated often leads to Type 2 diabetes within five years. In addition, approximately 90 to 95 percent of the more than 30 million Americans living with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, according to the CDC.

Roy Taylor, a professor at Newcastle University in the U.K. who co-led the study said in a statement announcing the findings that the impact that diet and lifestyle has on diabetes are “rarely discussed.”

“Rather than addressing the root cause, management guidelines for Type 2 diabetes focus on reducing blood sugar levels through drug treatments. Diet and lifestyle are touched upon but diabetes remission by cutting calories is rarely discussed,” Taylor said. He added that the participants were not asked to increase their physical activity at all, but only asked to modify their diet.

“A major difference from other studies is that we advised a period of dietary weight loss with no increase in physical activity, but during the long-term follow up increased daily activity is important,” Taylor said.

Taylor also wrote that the study offered a more universal approach to reversing diabetes compared to undergoing bariatric surgery, which can achieve Type 2 diabetes remission for some people, but “is more expensive and risky, and is only available to a small number of patients.”

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Obesity: The Public Health Epidemic Sweeping America

The prevalence of obesity in the United States has skyrocketed in the past few decades, leading to jarring statistics that indicate a rapidly increasing global public health epidemic. Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey states that more than 2 in 3 adults are considered overweight or obese; yet perhaps more disconcerting is the fact that approximately one-third of children and adolescents between the ages of 6 and 19 qualify as overweight or obese.

While the causes of obesity vary, factors include genetics, nutrition habits, lifestyle habits, geographic location, and socioeconomic status. The epigenetics of obesity demonstrate that genetic makeup plays an innate role, but can be mitigated and lessened by one’s activity choices and environment. As obesity is one of the primary risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and a host of other critically severe health problems, there is a pressing need for increased awareness and action steps surrounding the epidemic.

A recent study based at and conducted by UT Southwestern Medical Center reveals a strong genetic-environmental interaction: obesity significantly exacerbates the effects of gene variants that increase the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) by various metabolic pathways. If untreated and unmonitored, NAFLD can ultimately lead to cirrhosis—chronic liver disease—and liver cancer. Scientists found that the PNPLA3 gene variant spurred the strongest genetic-environmental interaction: “the first genetic cause of NAFLD ever identified.” One of the lead researchers in the study explains that people with lower BMI indexes are unlikely to have excess fat in the liver, despite having the PNPLA3 risk alleles. A longitudinal study further revealed that the risk of having cirrhosis among those with the risk allele increased 5.8 times, compared to those who were obese but lacked the risk allele.

The findings demonstrate an interaction between obesity and genetics, confirming the importance of both genetic screenings and early interventions. Nevertheless, DNA is not the sole culprit; while genetics inevitably account for some of a person’s obesity risk, genes can be countered and curbed by the implementation of healthy lifestyle interventions. Increasing data and studies indicate that sleep hygiene is a necessary element in terms of obesity prevention, coupled with consistent physical activity and exercise.

Thus, although there is no single approach to prevent or treat overweight and obesity, the importance of diet and exercise cannot be understated—particularly with younger children and adolescent, as childhood obesity almost inevitably leads to adulthood obesity. While some studies suggest that the epidemic will worsen and hit new highs, others advocate for the imminent urgency of different treatment approaches, including collaboration with the food and restaurant industries regarding calories and portion sizes. Regardless of societal and external factors, the epigenetics of obesity can be influenced by our behavior and actions: namely, positive and healthy lifestyle interventions.

To learn more about personalized approaches & strategies to address weight management and obesity, attend our pre-conference Obesity Management Workshop in Las Vegas on December 13th, 2017. 

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