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New ‘Super-Tomato’ Can Fight Cancer, Heart Disease, Diabetes and Alzheimer’s

This is not the tomato in question

by Diana Bretting

Scientists said that they have invented a ‘super-tomato’ which can fight cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. The makers of this unique tomato said it has high quantities of disease-fighting anti-oxidant plant chemicals.
According to the team of British scientists, who invented the tomatoes, just a single tomato they developed contains as much of the grape compound resveratrol as 50 bottles of red wine. On the other hand, another tomato produced the same amount of genistein, a soy bean compound.
Earlier studies have shown that resveratrol has potential to extend lifespan in animal studies, whereas genistein could help in prevention of some cancers, including breast cancer.
The study published in the journal Nature Communications said that the super-tomatoes contain a protein called AtMYB12, which is found in the garden weed thale cress. The researchers said when they introduced the proteins to the tomatoes they acted like opening a tap to boost levels of a group of anti-oxidants called phenylpropanoids which are made by plants.
Professor Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre in Norwich said, “Our study provides a general tool for producing valuable phenylpropanoid compounds on an industrial scale in plants and potentially production of other products derived from aromatic amino acids”
Martin further said their work could be effectively used in a number of areas, including plant and microbe engineering, medicinal plant natural products, as well as diet and health research.

The researchers also hope that the similar technique can be used to manufacture other compounds that form the basis of many medicines.

Diabetes association seeks sugary drink tax


Soda pop as an election issue? It might sound a little far-fetched, but that’s exactly what the Canadian Diabetes Association is trying to accomplish with a campaign aimed at encouraging a federal sales tax on sugary drinks.
Using the election as an opportunity to raise issues relating to diabetes, the association, through chief scientific adviser Dr. Janet Hux, has been engaging the public, political parties and media in the hope of driving policy change.
The cornerstone of its campaign is a recommendation that the government charge a specific tax on all sugary drinks like it does with unhealthy choices like cigarettes and alcohol.
Hux said the number of Canadians living with diabetes has doubled in 12 years, with a new person being diagnosed every three minutes, making it one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century.
“If you went to a downtown hospital here in Halifax, diabetes would be the cause for 30 per cent of the strokes, 40 per cent of heart attacks, half of the kidney failure requiring dialysis and 70 per cent of amputations. This disease has a huge toll on people affected by it,” Hux told The Chronicle Herald on Thursday.
According to association statistics, the number of people living with diabetes in Nova Scotia is estimated at more than 171,000 — about 20 per cent of the population — and it costs the health-care system about $439 million per year.
But why specifically target sugary drinks and not other sugar-, fat- or carbohydrate-laden foods? The reason goes beyond the well-known connection between obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Hux said recent studies show a direct link between the consumption of sugary drinks and the likelihood of developing the disease.
“If you took two people the same weight, even a healthy weight, and one of them got a substantial portion of their calories from sugary drinks, her risk of diabetes would be higher even though she’s a healthy weight. This is a class of food products that carry a unique risk and, in most cases, offer no nutritional benefit.”
Hux said people in the high-use consumption category — those who drink one or two cans of pop per day — are 20 per cent more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who consume a low amount or none at all, regardless of weight or other risk factors.
“The primary purpose for the tax is to make the healthy choice the easy choice by giving a price signal that this particular choice is unhealthy,” Hux said.
An added benefit would be that revenue generated by the tax could be invested in prevention and treatment programs, she said.
According to Hux, taxes on sugary beverages have been implemented in France, Hungary, Finland and Mexico, and have been effective in reducing consumption.
But in order to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in Canada, Hux said, public education, changes to labelling and packaging, and ad restrictions would be required.
While no parties have agreed to a tax on sugary drinks yet, Hux said she’s not discouraged.
“We see this as an opportunity to start the conversation. (We would be) really pleased to work with the new government after the election to develop the suite of polices that are going to be needed.”
As part of its election advocacy, the diabetes association is also pressing parties to look at a national Pharmacare strategy, as well as extending the disability tax credit to include those with Type 1 diabetes.

Study gives strongest link yet between blood pressure and diabetes

Oxford University research on 4 million people found sufferers have 60% greater chance of developing type 2 diabetes
People who have high blood pressure are almost 60% more likely to develop diabetes, according to research on 4.1 million people.
The Oxford University study provides the strongest evidence yet of a link between the two conditions.
Experts behind the study said more research was needed to see whether using drugs to lower blood pressure would help prevent people developing type 2 diabetes.
Prof Kazem Rahimi, deputy director of the George Institute for Global Health UK at Oxford, which carried out the study, said: “This is potentially a game changer in the understanding and treatment of diabetes.
“Diabetes affects more than 400 million people worldwide and we know that diabetics are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, such as heart attacks, stroke and heart failure.
“We can’t say for certain that one causes the other, but this study helps to connect the dots, showing that if you have high blood pressure there is a significantly greater chance of developing diabetes.
“Understanding the link will help us better communicate risks to patients and can provide another motivation for patients and doctors to aim for tight blood pressure control.”
The research on UK adults was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
All the adults were free of diabetes and cardiovascular disease at the start of the study.
The result showed people were at almost 60% higher risk of diabetes if they had high blood pressure.
High blood pressure was linked with new cases of diabetes in a wide range of individuals, including men and women, people of varying ages, as well as those who were normal weight, overweight and obese.
Rahimi said: “At a minimum we know for certain that the link exists, but is high blood pressure a cause of diabetes or just a risk factor? We still don’t know.
“In particular researchers can now look at whether lowering blood pressure is an effective treatment or reduces the risk of getting diabetes.”
Dr Richard Elliott, Diabetes UK research communications manager, said: “We already know that you are more at risk of type 2 diabetes if you have ever had high blood pressure, a heart attack or a stroke.
“The results of this large study reinforce this link. We know that the best way to reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes is to maintain a healthy weight by eating a healthy balanced diet and taking part in regular physical activity.”

FDA approves two new drug treatments for diabetes mellitus

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today approved Tresiba (insulin degludec injection) and Ryzodeg 70/30 (insulin degludec/insulin aspart injection) to improve blood sugar (glucose) control in adults with diabetes mellitus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 21 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes. Over time, diabetes increases the risk of serious health complications, including heart disease,blindness, nerve and kidney damage. Improvement in blood sugar control can reduce the risk of some of these long-term complications.
"Long-acting insulins play an essential role in the treatment of patients with type-1 diabetes and in patients with type-2 diabetes with advanced disease," said Jean-Marc Guettier, M.D., director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “The FDA remains committed to support the development of innovative therapies for the treatment of diabetes.”
Tresiba is a long-acting insulin analog indicated to improve glycemic control in adults with type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus. Dosing of Tresiba should be individualized based on the patient’s needs. Tresiba is administered subcutaneously once daily at any time of day.
The efficacy and safety of Tresiba used in combination with mealtime insulin for the treatment of patients with type-1 diabetes were evaluated in two 26-week and one 52-week active-controlled clinical trials involving 1,102 participants exposed to Tresiba. The efficacy and safety of Tresiba used in combination with mealtime insulin or used as add-on to common background oral antidiabetic drugs for the treatment of patients with type-2 diabetes were evaluated in four 26-week and two 52-week active-controlled clinical trials involving 2,702 participants exposed to Tresiba. In participants with type 1 and 2 diabetes who had inadequate blood sugar control at trial entry, treatment with Tresiba provided reductions in HbA1c (hemoglobin A1c or glycosylated hemoglobin, a measure of blood sugar control) in line with reductions achieved with other, previously approved long-acting insulin.
Ryzodeg 70/30 is a mixture of insulin degludec, a long-acting insulin analog, and insulin aspart, a rapid-acting human insulin analog. It is indicated to improve glycemic control in adults with diabetes mellitus.
The efficacy and safety of Ryzodeg 70/30 used in combination with mealtime insulin for the treatment of patients with type 1 diabetes were evaluated in one 26-week active controlled clinical trial involving 362 participants exposed to Ryzodeg 70/30. The efficacy and safety of Ryzodeg 70/30 administered once or twice daily for the treatment of patients with type 2 diabetes were evaluated in four active controlled 26-week clinical trials involving 998 participants exposed to Ryzodeg 70/30. In participants with type 1 and 2 diabetes who had inadequate blood sugar control at trial entry, treatment with Ryzodeg 70/30 provided reductions in HbA1c equivalent to reductions achieved with other, previously approved long-acting or pre-mixed insulin.
Tresiba and Ryzodeg should not be used in those who have increased ketones in their blood or urine (diabetic ketoacidosis). Patients or caregivers should monitor blood glucose in all patients treated with insulin. Insulin regimens should be modified cautiously and only under medical supervision. Tresiba and Ryzodeg may cause low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which can be life-threatening. Patients should be monitored more closely with changes to insulin dosage, co-administration of other glucose-lowering medications, meal pattern, physical activity, and in patients with renal impairment or hepatic impairment orhypoglycemia unawareness.
Severe, life-threatening, generalized allergy, including anaphylaxis, generalized skin reactions, angioedema, bronchospasm, hypotension, and shock may occur with any insulin.
The most common adverse reactions associated with Tresiba and Ryzodeg in clinical trials were hypoglycemia, allergic reactions, injection site reactions, pitting at the injection site (lipodystrophy), itching, rash, edema, and weight gain.
Tresiba and Ryzodeg are manufactured by Novo Nordisk in Plainsboro, New Jersey.

The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.

Lilly diabetes drug slashes deaths in patients with heart risk


Eli Lilly and Co's new Jardiance pill slashed deaths by 32 percent in patients with type 2 diabetes at risk of heart attack and stroke, a finding that could make it a mainstay diabetes treatment and triple its use, according to researchers and analysts.
Lilly shares jumped as much as 9 percent after data from the trial was released Thursday at a medical meeting in Stockholm.
"This is the first diabetes therapy to show robust effect in reducing cardiovascular death. It really is big news," said Dr. Bernard Zinman, director of the Diabetes Centre at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, who led the three-year study of 7,000 people.
Because about one-half of the deaths in people with type 2 diabetes are caused by cardiovascular disease, reducing cardiovascular risk is considered essential to diabetes care. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and is linked to obesity.
Jardiance, a once-a-day pill which won U.S. approval last year, belongs to a new family of treatments called SGLT2 inhibitors that include Johnson & Johnson's Invokana and AstraZeneca Plc's Farxiga. They lower blood sugar by inhibiting reabsorption of glucose in the kidneys.
Jardiance was developed jointly with Germany's privately held Boehringer Ingelheim.
Zinman, in an interview, predicted the new study would prompt medical societies to recommend that Jardiance be used by type 2 diabetics who have a history of heart disease or who are at risk of cardiovascular events.
About 26 million Americans have type 2 diabetes, according to federal data for 2014. The vast majority of those patients could be candidates for Jardiance, which costs over $4,000 per year, Morningstar analyst Damien Conover said.
"The big news here is that the drug reduced cardiovascular stuff. That has not been the case with all things in diabetes," said David Marrero, president of health care and education at the American Diabetes Association. "It is probably going to be a more popular drug because of that."
Sanford Bernstein analyst Tim Anderson more than tripled his annual sales forecast for Jardiance and combination drugs containing it to $2.7 billion by 2020. He cut his 2020 sales forecast for Merck & Co Inc's Januvia, the leading member of a competing class of oral diabetes drugs called DPP-4 inhibitors, to $6 billion from $7.8 billion.
Anderson estimates Jardiance could boost Lilly's earnings per share by 8 percent on average across 2016 to 2020.
In the study, patients taking Jardiance had a 38 percent reduction in cardiovascular death, including from heart attacks and strokes. There was no significant difference in non-fatal heart attacks or non-fatal strokes.
Those taking Jardiance had a 32 percent lower risk of dying from any cause, and a 35 percent lower rate of hospitalizations from heart failure.
The benefits were especially impressive because they added to protection that patients received from taking cholesterol fighters and other life-saving heart drugs, Zinman said.
"This is a wonderful thing," said Dr. Jerome Tolbert of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital in New York. He has not prescribed Jardiance and similar drugs as frequently as treatments like Januvia, but expects that may change based on the new data.
Zinman noted that Jardiance, like other SGLT2 drugs, causes weight loss and reduced blood pressure, besides lowering both blood sugar levels and body fat, and also reduces swelling, which all help the cardiovascular system.
Lilly and Boehringer last month disclosed that Jardiance met its primary study goal, becoming the first diabetes drug to show heart-protective results in a large cardiovascular trial. But they did not unveil detailed data until Thursday at the medical meeting.
Shares of Lily closed up 6.5 percent at $89.98 on Thursday, after rising as high as $92.83.
In calculating the combined number of cardiac deaths, non-fatal heart attacks and non-fatal strokes, 14 percent fewer events were seen in patients taking Jardiance in combination with standard treatments, compared with patients who took standard treatments alone, meeting the study's main goal.
Standard treatments included statins, which lower cholesterol, and blood pressure drugs.

(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson in New York; Additional reporting by Deena Beasley in Los Angeles; Editing by Michele Gershberg, Jeffrey Benkoe and Lisa Shumaker)

A 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

A 3-year-old girl was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, making her what is thought to be one of the youngest people ever seen with the condition. Her story is documented in a case study being presented this week at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Stockholm.
Type 2 diabetes is typically seen in adults, but as the epidemic expands, the disease has been rising in children, as well.
Dr. Michael Yafi of the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, who is presenting the case study, said a 3-and-a-half-year-old Hispanic girl presented to the paediatric endocrinology clinic where he is based for evaluation of obesity. The child weighed 77 pounds -- compared to an average of about 35 pounds for a girl her age.
Her symptoms included excessive urination and thirst, though her medical history showed no sign she was at an increased risk for diabetes.
Doctors reviewed the child's diet and found the family had poor nutritional habits with uncontrolled calories and fat. Both her weight and body mass index (BMI) were in the top 5 percent of all children her age.
After ruling out other potential causes for her obesity and weight gain, doctors diagnosed her with type 2 diabetes.
"The incidence of [type 2 diabetes] has increased dramatically worldwide in children due to the epidemic of child obesity," Yafi said in a statement. "Clinicians should be aware of the possibility of type 2 diabetes even in very young obese children, although of course type 1 diabetes can also still occur in obese children and is in fact much more common in young children than type 2 diabetes."
Early identification is key, especially when it comes to children, Yafi said, as early therapies can help reverse the disease.
In this particular case, the girl started a liquid version of the diabetes drug metformin and her parents received nutritional training and medical advice to help them control their daughter's food intake and increase her physical activity.
The metformin therapy was decreased by 50 percent each month, and then stopped. Six months after her diagnosis, the girl had dropped 25 percent of her body weight and had normal blood glucose levels.

"Reversal of type 2 diabetes in children is possible by early screening of obese children, early diagnosis, appropriate therapy and lifestyle modification," Yafi said.


Submitted by Diane Hoffman on Tue, 09/29/2015 - 06:05

Prebiotic pasta could help increase good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract while offering an enriching experience of eating pasta. The research team noted that pasta enriched with specific type of fiber called beta-glucan can improve the concentration of ‘good’ bacteria and offer health benefits.
The probiotic pasta can also improve the immune system and help diabetics and patients with high cholesterol. Study subjects were analyzed by the research team for two months. The increase in population of healthy bacteria led to better health for the study participants, informed the research team.
The research team asked the study participants to eat 100 grams pasta per day. This amounts to three grams of recommended daily dose of barley beta-glucans. Most of the pasta is made from durum wheat, which has proven high protein content. Generally, Pasta contains 75 percent durum wheat and 25 percent whole grain barley flour. Durum wheat was developed around 7000 BC in Central Europe.
The study team noted, “Durum wheat flour and whole-grain barley Pasta containing 3% of barley β-glucans appeared to be effective in the modulation of the composition and the metabolic pathways of the intestinal microbiota, leading to an increased level of SCFA.”
Beta-glucans can be helpful in cases of high cholesterol, diabetes and also improve immunity. Beta-glucans are sugars found in oats, barley, bran, baker’s yeast and some mushrooms and are often used as texturing agents in food processing.
Study co-author Maria De Angelis of the University of Bari Adlo Moro in Italy, said, “These results highlight the influence of fibres and of the Mediterranean diet on gut microbiota, and indirectly on human health.”
The study aimed at comparing the fecal microbiota and metabolome of 26 healthy subjects before (HS) and after (HSB) two months of diet intervention based on the administration of durum wheat flour and whole-grain barley Pasta containing the minimum recommended daily intake (3 g) of barley β-glucans.
A marked increase of short chain fatty acids (SCFA) such as 2-methyl-propanoic acid, acetic, butyric and propionic acids was found in HSB with respect to HS fecal samples.
Detailed findings of the research team have been published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Author Affiliations: Department of Soil, Plant and Food Sciences, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy.
Department of Emergency and Organ Transplantation, Nephrology Unit - University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy
Department of Agricultural and Food Sciences, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
Inter-departmental Centre for Industrial Agri-Food Research, University of Bologna, Cesena, Italy

Eat Well to Be Well: Food fallacies – separate fact from fiction on diabetes


Diabetes is becoming more of an epidemic than ever. The number of individuals diagnosed and undiagnosed with diabetes is estimated to be at 29.1 million people or 9.3 percent of the population in the United States. We all know of someone with this disease and how hard it can be to follow the pattern of eating meant to keep diabetes in control. Diet, or the way a person eats, is the cornerstone of treating this condition but sometimes there is conflicting advice on how to go about that. Let’s dispel some of those myths regarding diabetes:
Fallacy: Sugar causes diabetes
Fact – Sugar alone by itself does not cause diabetes. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate easily broken down into glucose in the digestive tract, absorbed quickly into the bloodstream, causing blood sugar (blood glucose) to rise. All carbohydrates break down into glucose. Glucose is necessary for normal functioning of the brain and other body tissues. As glucose levels rise, the pancreas secretes the hormone insulin, necessary to remove glucose from the bloodstream and into the cells of the body. When the body is not producing sufficient insulin or the insulin is defective, blood glucose or sugar levels rise and remain elevated leading to diabetes. The origin of diabetes is complex with many factors leading to its cause – family history, ethnicity, age along with lifestyle factors such as gaining too much weight and lack of physical activity. Consuming foods or beverages with a lot of sugar causes blood sugar levels to rise but also adds too many calories, causing weight gain. Gaining too much weight will raise the risk of type 2 diabetes. The focus should be on preventing weight gain or losing weight if overweight to obese, increasing physical activity and keeping sugar intake in moderation.
Fallacy: People with diabetes have to eat special food
Fact – A person with diabetes does not have to eat special diabetic or “dietetic” foods – they often are more expensive and offer no special benefits. They can eat the same foods as anyone else as long as they are consuming a healthy diet made up of plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, legumes, healthy fats and low-fat dairy. What needs to be kept to a minimum is their intake of food high in saturated fat, trans fat, sugar and salt.
Fallacy: Diabetics cannot eat any desserts or sweets
Fact – As long as they keep the portion size very small, they can occasionally eat a dessert or sweets such as cookies or even chocolate. The majority of their calories need to come from a healthy diet, along with adequate exercise to help use up excess blood sugar.
Fallacy: Honey is better for diabetics than sugar
Fact – Since honey is made by bees, people associate it as being healthier than using table sugar. Honey is still a sugar, and has slightly more carbohydrates and more calories per teaspoon than table sugar. Once ingested into the body, it acts no differently than table sugar, causing blood sugar levels to rise. It can be used by diabetics if they prefer but it should be used in moderation.
Fallacy: It’s really not that important to check your blood sugar levels daily
Fact – Checking blood sugar levels daily is essential in keeping diabetics in a healthy range. This quick, easy tool gives immediate feedback whether blood sugar is too high or too low, so adjustments in food intake, physical activity or medications can be made, helping to reduce the risk of health problems. Diabetes is a serious disease that raises the risk of numerous health complications such as heart attacks, stroke, blindness, poor circulation, poor wound healing, numbness or tingling in the extremities, amputations and kidney failure. Your physician will tell you how frequently you need to check your blood sugar and what range it should be in.
Fallacy: People with diabetes should only use artificial sweeteners instead of sugar
Fact – Sugar-free foods or foods containing artificial sweeteners are not necessarily calorie-free or carbohydrate-free. Always read the label looking at the amount of calories and how many grams of carbohydrates are in the product. Some artificial sweeteners do contain calories and can affect your blood sugar by causing it to rise. In addition, artificial sweeteners consumed in large quantities may have a laxative effect and may cause weight gain due to possibly increasing cravings for sweetened foods.
If diagnosed with diabetes, always follow your doctor’s advice and meet with a registered dietitian who will work with you to develop a healthy eating pattern to keep your blood glucose levels in control. If you suspect you have diabetes, see your doctor right away – the sooner treatment begins with you understanding how to reduce complications, the greater chance you will have to lead a long, healthy life.
Graphic: The Diabetes Food Pyramid, developed by A.D.A.M., Inc., divides food into six groups, which vary in size to show relative amounts of servings for each group. The pyramid differs from the Food Guide Pyramid released by the USDA. In the Diabetes Food Pyramid, the groups are based on protein content and carbohydrates instead of their food classification.

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD, is a registered dietitian and an adjunct professor at Allen Community College, Burlingame, and Butler County Community College, Council Grove; she teaches Basic Nutrition and Therapeutic Nutrition. She is also a certified health and wellness coach, and a consulting dietitian for the Cotton O’Neil Clinic in Osage City. She writes Eat Well to Be Well, a column about health and nutrition, and is a blog contributor for Dr. David Samadi at Contact her at, visit her website, or like “Eat Well 2 Be Well” on Facebook.

High-Protein Diet May Benefit Diabetics

People with type 2 diabetes may benefit from a higher-protein diet, but it likely depends on whether or not they have a particular gene related to vitamin D metabolism, new research suggests.
The study of overweight adults with type 2 diabetes found that people lost a similar amount of weight over two years whether they followed a high-protein, low-protein, low-fat or high-fat diet.
But differences emerged when it came to dieters' levels of insulin -- a hormone that regulates blood sugar. In type 2 diabetes, the body loses its sensitivity to insulin, which triggers spikes in blood sugar and insulin production.
In this study, some people showed bigger reductions in insulin and improved insulin sensitivity when they ate a higher-protein diet: namely, people with a particular gene variant that boosts blood levels of vitamin D.
It's not clear yet what it all means, said lead researcher Qibin Qi, an assistant professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, in New York City.
For one, the information is not practically useful since people do not know the genetics behind their personal vitamin D metabolism.
"Right now, we're just in the 'concept phase' of this research," said Qi.
The study is published online Sept. 29 in the journal Diabetologia.

Vitamin D is best known for its bone-building effects, but it has wide-ranging jobs in the body, such as helping to regulate cell growth, immune function and inflammation, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Studies have linked low vitamin D levels to an increased risk of various chronic health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, Qi pointed out.
For the current study, his team wanted to see whether genetic variations in vitamin D metabolism made a difference in how people with type 2 diabetes responded to different weight-loss diets.
The study included 645 overweight and obese adults who spent two years on one of four reduced-calorie diets. Two diets were relatively high in protein, with 25 percent of daily calories coming from protein; the other two had "average" levels (15 percent of calories from protein), the study said.
The amount of fat in the diets also varied -- with two having relatively low amounts (20 percent of daily calories), and two were high-fat (40 percent of calories), the researchers said.
When it came to weight loss, all of the diets were similarly effective -- helping people shed an average of 8 to 10 pounds. And differences in vitamin D-related genes showed no influence on people's weight loss overall.
Genes did seem to matter, however, when it came to improvements in insulin, Qi said.
The gene that stood out is known as DHCR7, and it helps the body synthesize vitamin D, the researchers said. Most of the study participants had at least one copy of the "T" variant of that gene -- which boosts blood levels of vitamin D, the study revealed.
And those people tended to show greater improvements in insulin levels on the higher-protein diet, versus the average-protein diet. They also responded better to the higher-protein plan compared with people who did not carry the "T" variant, the study found.
It's not clear why, according to Qi. But, he said, some high-protein foods -- such as certain fish and fortified dairy products -- are good sources of vitamin D. And it's possible that people with the "T" variant derive more vitamin D from those foods, versus people without the variant.
Higher vitamin D levels, in turn, might improve people's insulin sensitivity, Qi said.
It's not clear, however, whether that's the case. One limitation of the study, Qi said, is that the researchers did not measure dieters' blood levels of vitamin D.
What's more, the study says nothing about the ultimate impact of a higher-protein diet on people's long-term health.
"Overall, the effects of the different diets on weight loss were similar," Qi said. "I do think it's the overall diet pattern that matters most -- not a single nutrient. People should eat a balanced diet and get regular exercise."
Dr. Maria Pena, a weight management specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, agreed.
"At this point, we can say that eating a balanced diet -- high-quality proteins, healthy fats and fiber-rich carbs, rather than processed carbs -- is the most important thing," said Pena, who was not involved in the study.
She pointed out that the "high-protein" diets in this study actually contained moderate amounts. "You really should get around 25 percent of your calories from protein," Pena said. "It's just that most people don't."
She also recommended that people make sure they get the recommended amounts of vitamin D, either from food or a multivitamin. The daily recommendation for vitamin D varies slightly with age. However for most people, the U.S. government advises 600 international units a day.
As for the gene findings, Pena said, that information is not practically useful right now.

But in the future it could be, she added. Researchers do hope to one day tailor diet plans to better fit people's genetic profiles, Pena said.

Diet diary: The not so well-known ‘destroyer’ of blood sugar

One of the lesser-known ones is Gymnema Sylvestre, commonly known as ‘Gurmar’ or Madhunashini. ‘Gurmar’ has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and was first used to treat diabetes almost 2,000 years ago.
Nature has its own ways of balancing. While India is topping the charts, housing the maximum number of diabetics in the world, it can also boast of having myriad natural solutions and antidotes to fight blood sugar levels.
One of the lesser-known ones is Gymnema Sylvestre, commonly known as ‘Gurmar’ or Madhunashini. ‘Gurmar’ has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and was first used to treat diabetes almost 2,000 years ago.
The word Gymnema is derived from the Hindi word ‘Gurmar’, which means ‘’destroyer of sugar’’. This tropical and woody vine-like climbing plant is native to India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Africa and Australia. The medicinally active parts of the plant are its leaves and roots. Its healing and health-promoting properties have been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and herbal medicinal preparations.
The leading active compounds in Gymnema are gymnemic acids and gurmarin found in its leaves. They possess anti-diabetic and anti-inflammatory activities. It is known to have antimicrobial, cholesterol-lowering, liver-protective, laxative, anti-cancer and diuretic effects. Its benefits have also been documented in Ayurvedic texts for asthma, dental caries, stomach ailments, constipation, hemorrhoids and water retention.
A recent study in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine evaluated the effect of Gymnema Sylvestre on the blood sugar and cholesterol levels of 32 human subjects with type-2 diabetes mellitus. It was seen that daily administration of it for about six months significantly reduced their blood sugar levels and glycosylated hemoglobin levels. Several studies have confirmed Gymnema’s traditionally-known actions and therapeutic uses including its remarkable anti-diabetic benefits for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Interestingly, it has been reported to help curb sweet cravings. Gymnema is available in various anti-diabetic herbal preparations. It can also be consumed as a simple herbal tea, or a liquid or as a capsule, though its preparation in the form of fresh tea leaves may be most effective.
It is best to seek professional help from an experienced practitioner of Ayurveda to incorporate Gurmar as a therapeutic agent, but do inform your medical practitioner. It is not recommended during pregnancy, lactation and should not be given to infants and those with low blood pressure and low blood sugar levels.

Diabetes can be controlled

By Fred Cicetti

Q. I’ve been very hungry recently. Someone told me that this is a symptom for diabetes. Is that true?

A. An intense hunger is one diabetes symptom. Here are others: frequent urination, strong thirst, fatigue, unintended weight loss, slow-healing sores, dry and itchy skin, numbness or tingling in your feet, and blurred vision. However, some people with diabetes do not have symptoms.
Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood sugar. Diabetes can create serious health problems, but diabetics can control the disease.
If you have diabetes, your body can’t produce insulin or use it properly. Insulin is a hormone that helps control the sugar in your blood. Insulin is made by the pancreas, a large organ behind the stomach.
Your body converts most of the food you eat into a form of sugar called glucose, which is our main source of energy. If your body does not make enough insulin or the insulin doesn’t work the way it should, glucose can’t get into your cells and remains in your blood.
High levels of glucose in the blood damage nerves and blood vessels. This can lead to complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness, and lower-limb amputation.
More than 18 million Americans have diabetes. About 11 million people 65 years or older suffer from the disease.
A small percentage of diabetics have type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs in people under age 30. Diabetics with this form of the disease can not produce insulin.
About 90 percent of Americans with diabetes have type 2 diabetes. It is most common in adults over age 40, and the risk of getting it increases with age. With this form of diabetes, the body does not always produce enough insulin or does not use insulin efficiently. Being overweight and inactive increases the chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented in people who are at an increased risk or have pre-diabetes, a condition in which glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are more likely to develop diabetes within 10 years and are also more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.
A recent study showed that people with pre-diabetes can sharply lower their chances of developing the disease through modest weight loss with diet and exercise.
That same study showed that changes in diet and exercise were especially effective in curbing the development of diabetes in older people. In fact, the development of diabetes dropped by 71 percent in adults 60 and older who were enrolled in the study.
Because type 2 diabetes is more common in older people, especially in people who are overweight, doctors recommend that anyone 45 years of age or older be tested for diabetes.
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Cicetti is a health care writer with more than 40 years of journalistic experience.