Ingredients Found in Tea, Chocolate and Berries Can Help You Prevent Diabetes
There is strong evidence, taken from several studies, which show people who consume fruits and vegetables that are rich in flavonoids enjoy a reduced risk from several chronic diseases. According to new research provided by the University of East Anglia and King’s College London, consuming high quantities of flavonoids including anthocyanin and other compounds found in tea, chocolate and berries may help prevent type 2 diabetes, a disease that is affecting almost forty per cent of Americans over the age of twenty.
Flavonoids, which are present in many everyday foods, are thought to help boost the immune system by combating oxidation, a process where cell damaging substances called ‘free radicals’ accumulate. Oxidative damage is suspected of increasing the risk of several diseases including, diabetes, heart disease, strokes and several others.
Some studies have shown that through increasing the consumption of flavonoids, the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and even cancer can decline. Findings published in the Journal of Nutrition reveal that high intakes of these dietary compounds are associated with lower insulin resistance and better blood glucose regulation.
A study conducted by Prof. Aedin Cassidy from UEA’s Norwich Medical School found that these flavonoids lower inflammation which, when chronic, is associated with diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. She explains “Our research looked at the benefits of eating certain sub-groups of flavonoids. We focused on flavones, which are found in herbs and vegetables such as parsley, thyme and celery and anthocyanin found in berries, red grapes, wine and other red or blue coloured fruits and vegetables.”
Researchers studied almost 2,000 healthy female volunteers from TwinsUK who had completed a food questionnaire designed to estimate the total intake of flavonoids and split them into six flavonoid subclasses. Blood samples were then analysed for evidence of both glucose regulation and inflammation. Insulin resistance, a hallmark of type 2 diabetes, was then assessed using an equation that considered both fasting insulin and glucose levels.
Prof Cassidy explains the process of the study in detail “This is one of the first large scale human studies to look at how these powerful bioactive compounds might reduce the risk of diabetes. Laboratory studies have shown these types of food might modulate blood glucose regulation, affecting the risk of type 2 diabetes. Until now little has been known about how habitual intakes might affect insulin resistance, blood glucose regulation and inflammation in humans.”
She continues with the findings “We found that those who consumed plenty of anthocyanin and flavones had lower insulin resistance. High insulin resistance is associated with type 2 diabetes, so what we are seeing is that people who eat foods rich in these two compounds, such as berries, herbs, red grapes and wine, are less likely to develop the disease.”
“We also found that those who ate the most anthocyanin were least likely to suffer chronic inflammation, which is associated with many of today’s most pressing health concerns including diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Those who consumed the most flavone compounds had improved levels of the protein adiponectin, which help regulate a number of metabolic processes including glucose levels.”
She continued “What we don’t know yet is exactly how much of these compounds are necessary to potentially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.”
Another recent study from Finland showed that berries may be all that is needed to blunt a rapid insulin response, cause of long-term weight gain and diabetes. Strawberries, bilberries, loganberries and chokeberries may be all that is required to reduce the risk.
A previous study in the Journal of Nutrition evaluated the effect of a daily dietary supplementation, with bio actives from blueberries, on whole body insulin sensitivity in obese, non-diabetic and insulin-resistant men and women. The study had found that blueberries increased sensitivity to insulin and may reduce the risk of developing diabetes.
Prof Tim Spector, research collaborator and director of the TwinsUK study, from King’s College London concludes “This is an exciting finding that shows some components of foods we consider unhealthy, such as chocolate or wine, may contain some beneficial substances. If we can start to identify and separate these substances, we can potentially improve healthy living. There are many reasons, including genetics, that people prefer certain food so we should be cautious until we test them properly in randomised trials and in people developing early diabetes.”