Broccoli Compound Could Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes

By Tracy Staedter

Some people don’t like to eat their vegetables, but for obese people with type 2 diabetes, broccoli could hold the key to slowing, and potentially reversing, the disease, according to a new study.

Scientists used both computational and experimental research to zero in on a network of 50 genes that cause symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes. They also located a compound called sulforaphane — which is found naturally in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbages — that could turn down the expression of those genes, according to the findings, published today (June 14) in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

In the study, the scientists gave sulforaphane to obese patients, in the form of a concentrated broccoli sprout extract. They found that it improved the patients’ systems’ ability to control their glucose levels and reduced their glucose production — two symptoms of diabetes that can lead to other health problems, including coronary artery disease, nerve damage and blindness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“It’s very exciting and opens up new possibilities for the treatment of type 2 diabetes,” Anders Rosengren, an assistant professor at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, told Live Science. [Science You Can Eat: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Food]

Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of diabetes, affects more than 300 million people globally. For those with the disease who are obese, the excess fat in the liver makes the body less sensitive to the hormone insulin, which can make it difficult for the organ to help regulate blood sugar levels. Normally, insulin, which is produced by the pancreas, stimulates the liver to pull glucose out of the bloodstream and store it for later use.

People with type 2 diabetes are usually advised to change their diet to help control their blood sugar levels. “Lifestyle changes are at the core of type 2 diabetes treatment but often need to be complemented with drugs,” Rosengren said.

Currently the main treatment option is the drug metformin. But not every person who needs it can take it. About 15 percent of type 2 diabetes patients have reduced kidney function and taking metformin can increase their risk for lactic acidosis, an unhealthy build-up of lactic acid, which can cause abdominal discomfort, shallow breathing, muscle pain or cramping, and tiredness.

About 30 percent of patients who take metformin develop nausea, bloating and abdominal pain.

Finding an alternative to metformin was one of the team’s objectives. But there was also general frustration in the clinical community that research labs were having a difficult time developing new anti-diabetic compounds, Rosengren said.

One challenge is that researcherslooking to develop new drugs have traditionally studied single genes or individual proteins. But diabetes is much more complicated than that. It involves a large network of genes, so the scientists had to find a new, systematic approach that took a holistic view of the disease. [11 Ways Processed Food Is Different from Real Food]

Study leader Annika Axelsson, a doctoral student at Gothenburg, and her colleagues began by analyzing liver tissue from diabetic mice who were raised on a “Western diet” containing 42 percent fat and 0.15 percent cholesterol. After several tests, the scientists identified 1,720 genes associated with hyperglycemia, a condition in which an excessive amount of glucose circulates in the blood.

After further analysis, the researchers narrowed the 1,720 genes to a network of 50 linked genes that together result in high bloodglucose levels. This network became the so-called disease signature for type 2 diabetes.

Next, the researchers used a database of existing drug compounds and employed a mathematical modeling program to rank those compounds for their potential ability to reverse the disease signature — in other words, to turn down those overexpressed genes.

Sulforaphane had the highest ranking. The team ran several experiments to see if it could actually lower glucose levels in living systems. First, they tested the compound in cells growing in lab dishes, and found that it inhibited glucose production. Next, they tested it in rodents, and found that it improved glucose tolerance in animals on a high-fat or high-fructose diet.

Finally, the researchers tested sulforaphane in people. Over the course of 12 weeks, 97 patients with type 2 diabetes took a daily dose of concentrated broccoli sprout extract in powdered form. The dose was about 100 times the amount found naturally in broccoli. For those who were not obese, the sulforaphane did not have any affect.

But for those who were obese, the results were significant, the researchers reported. Typically, for people with type 2 diabetes, glucose levels in the blood stay high, even when they are fasting. But sulforaphane reduced fasting blood glucose in these patients by 10 percent compared to the participants in the study who took a placebo, according to the study. That amount is enough to lower a person’s risk of developing health complications. And the compound did not cause gastrointestinal problems that metformin can cause, nor other side effects. [7 Bizarre Drug Side Effects]

For the next phase of this study, Rosengren said the team would like to investigate the effects of sulforaphane on people with prediabetes to see whether it could improve their glucose control before type 2 diabetes develops.

Originally published on Live Science

Diabetic Diet Chart and Plan – Tips for Diabetes Control

The term Diabetes brings on dread and fear in the mind of every food lover, because, if one is diagnosed with this chronic disease, then the first and foremost thing that has to be done is giving up on certain foods and putting a restriction of others. But beingdiagnosed with diabetes mellitus does not necessarily mean giving up on all your favourite foods. It only means that from now you have to be a bit more careful about what you eat by following a well-planned diabetes diet chart that includes all the healthy food groups in the right proportion.

Balanced Diabetic Diet

We all know that the 3 basic food groups that we consume every day of our lives are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The daily diet chart for diabetic patients should include carbs, fats and proteins in the ratio of 60:20:20 and the total calorie intake per day should be limited between 1500 to 1800 calories. Type 2 diabetes is the most common and prevalent form of diabetes that accounts for almost 90 to 95% of all diagnosed cases of diabetes. Overweight issues and unhealthy eating habits are two of the main risk factors in case of Type 2 Diabetes. Doctors often prescribe a restrictive 1200 calorie diabetes diet plan that not only helps to keep diabetes under control but also aids in losing weight in a healthy and sustainable manner.

Diabetes Diet: Tips to Control and Prevent Diabetes

So, now that we have got some idea about diabetes and how it can be controlled with effective diet plans, let us know some vital diabetic diet tips that can be incorporated in any Indian diabetic diet.

Plan a Low Calorie Diet

The most vital step towards controlling diabetes is a natural way is by following a well-planned and low calorie diet chart that supplies all the necessary nutrients to the body without adding extra calories. The 1200 calorie diet is one of the best options in this case, because it is an amazing diet for weight loss that also helps in maintaining blood glucose levels at a steady point. You can opt for a 1200 calorie vegetarian diet plan or the non-vegetarian variety. In this article we have provided a sample 1200 calorie diabetic diet Indian version:

Indian diabetes diet chart


Timing Food to Eat Calories
Early Morning Tea without sugar + 2 Marie biscuits 90 calories
Breakfast 2 Idli with chutney 230 caloriesg
Mid-morning 1 apple 40 caloriess
Lunch Dal 1 bowl (130 cal)+Roti 2 pieces(150 cal)+ Salad 1 plate (30 cal) 395 calories
Afternoon Snack(Evening) Green tea + Puffed rice 1 bowl 120 calories
Dinner 1/3rdRoti 2 pieces (150 cal) + Bottle gourd curry 1 bowl (80 cal)+Dal 1 bowl (130 cal) 315 calories
Total 1255 calories

Include Fiber-rich Vegetables in the Diet

Add a dash of colours to your plate by including a wide variety of colourful vegetables in your healthy diet chart. Vegetables are not only a rich source of vitamins and minerals but also the essential dietary fiber that keep you fuller for longer and doesn’t allow the blood sugar levels to fluctuate. Vegetables are low in calories and carbs, making them one of the healthiest options for the diabetes diet. But make sure you choose the non-starchy varieties in order to keep your diabetes under check. Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, mustard greens and romaine lettuce are great options along with cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflowers, broccoli, and carrots, tomatoes, onions and shallots.

Fiber-rich Vegetables in the Diabetes Diet

Eat Whole fruits rather than dried fruits and fruit juices

Although dry fruits and natural fruit juices are considered two of the healthiest of food and drink options by health conscious individuals but it is not the same for diabetic patients. Both dry fruits and fruit juices have a high concentration of fructose, one form of sugar that can cause a sudden spike in the sugar levels. Therefore, it is always better to opt for fresh fruits that containfiber along with vitamins and minerals and the presence of fiber in the fruits helps in slowing down the absorption of natural sugars in the body.

Fruits in Diabetes diet

Include Milk and Milk products in the diet

Low fat milk and milk products such as cottage cheese, yogurt and cheese provides the right doze of proteins and carbohydrates to the body that plays an integral role in controlling blood sugar levels. But be careful about the type of milk and milk products you buy. Replace full-fat milk and high-fat cheese with low-fat milk and low-fat cheese for making the diet more effective.

Milk products in Diabetes diet

Add Lentils and whole grains to the diet

High fiber foods such as whole grains, oats, brown rice, lentils, beans, chickpeas and millets form an essential part of the diabetic diet, because these are low glycaemic index foods that prevent blood sugar spikes throughout the day and helps in better management of diabetes. Being an amazing source of fiber, whole grains slow down the absorption of glucose in the blood stream. In addition, they are loaded with vitamins and minerals.

Lentils and whole grains in Diabetes diet

Say Yes to Healthy Fats

Not all fats are bad for health, all you need to do is identify the right ones. Research shows that monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs when incorporated into a healthy diet plan can help in reducing the risk of developing diabetes by almost 60%. MUFA also plays a key role in controlling blood sugar and reducing insulin resistance. This is not all, MUFAs can also aid in cutting out stubborn and dangerous belly fat that is related to prediabetes and diabetes. Some of the richest sources of MUFA are nuts, flaxseeds, olives and avocados.

healthy fats for Diabetes diet

Limit sweets

Diabetes management can be more difficult for the sweet lovers, because most people will suggest you to cut out sugar in all forms from your diet, which also include sweets, desserts and ice-creams. But, it reality, these is no need to say goodbye to sweets completely. Try to substitutesugary foods with healthier alternative like fruit salads. Save desserts and sweets for special occasions and make sure you enjoy only small portions.

Avoid sweets in Diabetes diet

Aim for smaller but frequent meals

Although a standard Indian diet consists of 2 to 3 large meals but such a meal pattern can lead to high blood sugar. Therefore, it is best to spread the total calorie intake throughout the day by dividing 3 large meals into 5 or 6 smaller ones. This diet plan not only helps you to avoid high or low glucose levels, but also allows you to enjoy healthy food more often.

time based meals in Diabetes diet

Limit the intake of salt and sugar

Table salt and table sugar are the two main culprits for diabetic patients and you should try to limit the intake of salt and sugar in your food for optimum management of diabetes. A diet loaded in salt doubles the risk of heart attack and stroke in people suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. And when it comes to table sugar, it provides nothing but empty calories and carbohydrates to the body.

salt and sugar in Diabetes diet

Say goodbye to unhealthy fats

People suffering from diabetes should be careful about fats, because too much fat in the diet can make it harder to control diabetes and increase the risk of heart diseases and stroke. Therefore, it is essential to recognize the harmful fats that are fatal for the heart and overall health. Saturated fats found in dairy products, meats and certain plant oils such as coconut oil and palm oil can raise the level of LDL “bad” cholesterol in the blood and lead to clogged arteries. Yet another harmful type of fat is trans fats or man-made fats that are found in cookies, margarine and crackers. Try to avoid saturated and trans fats whenever possible.

Avoid Junk foods in Diabetes diet

Stay away from foods with high glycaemic index

GI or glycaemic index measures how carbohydrate-rich foods affect the blood glucose level in the body. Foods with high GI such as white rice, white bread, corn flakes, rice pasta, pop-corn, etc. raise the blood glucose level more drastically compared to foods with low or medium GI. So, try to avoid high GI foods in the diet plan for diabetes.

Foods with high glycaemic index in Diabetes diet

A word of advice for the non-vegetarians

For those with non-vegetarian food habits, there is absolutely no need to give up all your favourite foods if you are diagnosed with diabetes. Just choose the non-vegetarian foods with caution. Non-veg foods such as red meats contain saturated fats so it is best to avoid it as much as possible. But you can always enjoy delicious chicken as a replacement. But make sure to remove the skin in order to avoid the saturated fat. Fish is a extremely healthy non-veg food that supplies polyunsaturated fats and omega 3 fatty acids to the body.

Non Veg in Diabetes diet plan

Control the cravings for tea and coffee

Plain tea without sugar and milk contains no calories or carbs, therefore, it should be a safe beverage for diabetics. But research shows that consuming 500 mg of caffeine over a short period of time can raise blood glucose levels. It is the same with coffee as well. Large doses of caffeine boosts up the effects of hormones glucagon and epinephrin that stimulates the release of glucose from the liver. Therefore, it is best to include limited servings of these beverages in the diet chart for diabetic patient.

tea and coffee in Diabetes diet

Drink Alcohol Judiciously

Alcohol consumption can lead to either sudden rise or fall in blood sugar levels, plus it contains a lot of empty calories. Excessive alcohol consumption can sometimes cause the blood sugar level to drop into dangerous levels. Certain types of alcohol such as sweet wine and beer containcarbohydrates that lead to rise in blood sugar levels. Alcohol also interacts with diabetes medications.

No Alcohol in Diabetes diet plan

Stay Active

When it comes to controlling and managing diabetes, it not all about food. One of the most powerful natural ways to reverse insulin resistance is exercise. So, combine regular physical activity with healthy diabetes diet plans for effective management of diabetes. It not only helps in lowering blood glucose levels, but also improves lipids and lowers blood pressure.

Stay Active in Diabetes diet

It is actually possible to live a healthy and normal life with diabetes if you simply follow a few sensible diabetic diet tips and opt for a healthy lifestyle. So, what are you waiting for? Initiate the change towards a better life.

Could lack of vitamin A be a cause of diabetes?

By. Honor Whiteman
foods containing vitamin A
Researchers have found that blocking vitamin A receptors on the surface of pancreatic beta cells reduces insulin secretion.
Researchers have found that vitamin A may be crucial to the insulin-secreting function of beta cells, a discovery that could open the door to new treatments for diabetes.

Diabetes is estimated to affect more than 29 million people in the United States.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90 to 95 percent of all diagnosed cases, and this arises when the beta cells of the pancreas fail to produce enough insulin – the hormone that regulates blood glucose – or when the body is no longer able to use insulin effectively.

Type 1 diabetes, which accounts for the remaining 5 percent of cases, occurs when the immune system destroys beta cells, hampering insulin production.

In a new study – recently reported in the Endocrine Journal – researchers from the United Kingdom and Sweden discovered that there are large quantities of vitamin A receptors on the surface of beta cells, called GPRC5C.

“When we discovered that insulin cells have a cell surface expressed receptor for vitamin A, we thought it was important to find out why and what the purpose is of a cell surface receptor interacting with vitamin A mediating a rapid response to vitamin A,” says study co-author Albert Salehi, of the University of Lund in Sweden.

On partially blocking the vitamin A receptors in beta cells from mice – eliminating the ability of vitamin A to bind to these cells – the team found that their ability to secrete insulin was reduced in response to sugar.

Vitamin A deficiency may destroy beta cells

For their study, Salehi and colleagues also tested beta cells derived from humans with and without type 2 diabetes.

Again, the researchers partially blocked GPRC5C in these beta cells. When sugar was applied to these cells, the team found that their insulin-secreting ability decreased by almost 30 percent.

Since impaired insulin secretion is a major cause of type 2 diabetes, the researchers believe that this finding indicates that a lack of vitamin A – found in liver, fish oils, and various fruits and vegetables – may play a role in the disease.

What is more, the team discovered that a lack of vitamin A led to a reduction in beta cells’ ability to stave off inflammation, while a complete deficiency of vitamin A caused beta cells to die.

This finding suggests that vitamin A deficiency may also be involved in type 1 diabetes, which is caused by the destruction of beta cells.

“In animal experiments it is known that newborn mice need vitamin A to develop their beta cells in a normal way. Most likely, the same applies to human beings. Children must absorb a sufficient amount of vitamin A through their diet,” notes Salehi.

Compounds targeting GPRC5C may lead to new diabetes treatments

While these findings indicate that vitamin A may be beneficial for diabetes, the researchers stress that increasing the intake of this vitamin, particularly through supplements, may be too risky.

They note that excess vitamin A levels have been associated with osteoporosis and other health problems. However, they say that it is unlikely that one could get too much vitamin A from dietary sources alone.

Still, the team is now on the hunt for small molecules or peptides that can activate GPRC5C on the surface beta cells, but which do not cause the side effects associated with vitamin A.

The authors conclude:

These observations therefore raise the exciting possibility that agents targeting GPRC5C may represent a novel therapeutic means of increasing the functional beta cell mass and also modestly boost insulin secretion.”

Learn how a new biopolymer injection may provide weeks of glucose control.

New Smart Insulin Patch Could Be a ‘Game Changer’ For Who Suffer From Diabetes

by Aamna Mohdin

For many who suffer from diabetes, insulin injections can be a painful and ‘imprecise’ process of keeping their blood sugar levels under control. A new ‘smart’ insulin patch could do away with these painful injections and revolutionize the way diabetics keep their blood sugar levels in check.

The patch, created by researchers from the University of North Carolina and NC State, is a thin square covered with more than 100 tiny needles. According to researchers, the patch works fast, is simple to use and is made from biocompatible materials. The patch’s tiny, painless needles are packed with insulin and glucose-sensing enzymes in microscopic storage units. The patch is able to release these enzymes when blood sugar levels get too high.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed promising results in a mouse model of type 1 diabetes. Researchers hope to see similar success in subsequent clinical trials in humans.

Around 387 million people worldwide suffer from diabetes. These patients keep their blood sugar in check by monitoring their levels with regular finger pricks and repeated insulin shots. If the wrong amount of medication is injected, patients could suffer from severe complications.

“The whole system can be personalized to account for a diabetic’s weight and sensitivity to insulin,” said co-senior author Zhen Gu in a statement, “so we could make the smart patch even smarter.”

The study found that the patch lowered blood glucose in mice for up to nine hours. As mice are less sensitive to insulin than humans, researchers suggest the patch can have a longer-lasting effect in diabetic patients. The patch emulates beta cells, which generate and store insulin in tiny sacks called vesicles. Beta cells play an important role in monitoring blood sugar levels and sending signals to release insulin into the bloodstream.

“We constructed artificial vesicles to perform these same functions by using two materials that could easily be found in nature,” said first author Jiching Yu.

These substances were hyaluronic acid and 2-nitroimidazole (NI), which the researchers joined up to create a new molecule where one end was water-loving and the other was water-fearing. These molecules self-assembled into a vesicle within which researchers inserted a core of solid insulin and enzymes, which are specially designed to sense glucose.

When blood sugar levels increased, the enzymes converted the excess glucose molecules that crowded into the vesicles into a product called gluconic acid, a reaction that requires the consumption of oxygen. This means that the environment becomes starved of oxygen, which makes the water-loving NI molecules become water-fearing. Ultimately, this causes the vesicles to fall apart, sending insulin into the bloodstream.

“The hard part of diabetes care is not the insulin shots, or the blood sugar checks, or the diet but the fact that you have to do them all several times a day every day for the rest of your life,” said co-senior author John Buse. “If we can get these patches to work in people, it will be a game changer.”


Diabetes and Mental Health: We Have a Long Way To Go

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and there’s been a lot of great discussion about the intersection of diabetes and mental health. We know that living with diabetes can come with some serious emotional challenges, and often these are not talked about openly by patients or their health care providers. By talking honestly about these issues, not only do we raise awareness about them and but we may also prompt other people to seek help.


This honesty is a big shift from the past when silence, because of lack of understanding and embarrassment, was the status quo. Now, it seems that people with diabetes are feeling more comfortable talking about and some health care providers are feeling much more comfortable listening to their patients talk about about mental health issues

As a diabetes psychologist, this spotlight on diabetes and mental health is extremely welcome. But it also reminds me of the enormous amount of work we have left to in tackling diabetes-related mental health issues. We have gotten really good at talking about and describing all the reasons living with diabetes is so challenging.

We have names for things that for far too long had no name. Now we can describe conditions like diabetes burnout, diabetes-related distress, and diabulimia and by talking about groups of symptoms, rather than talking in vague generalities. Naming and describing these things has been a huge step forward. However, it’s critical that we recognize that this is only the first step, and there’s a lot more work to be done.

Defining and describing problems related to diabetes and mental health is not enough. In fact, having the ability to define and describe gives us a huge responsibility to develop effective and evidence-based treatments for these problems. I’ll be honest – there’s a lot we don’t know. We know that we need effective interventions for diabetes-related behavioral health conditions, and at this point, we don’t have them. Until we do, people with diabetes are at a big disadvantage – and they deserve more.

Interventions to address diabetes and mental health challenges don’t necessarily have to involve a mental health professional in an office. As we tackle developing interventions, let’s think out of the box and creatively. But we also need to think about these things in a way that can be empirically supported, replicated and scalable.

Is the answer peer support? Technology? Brief interventions by endocrinologists? Treatment by a psychologist? I think the answer is some combination of all of the above. But we need to get a handle on what that is, and sooner rather than later.

While we do have tons more work to do, if you are dealing with diabetes and mental health issues, please don’t get too discouraged. Even though we don’t have many evidence-based treatments, that doesn’t mean that seeking help is pointless.

Many therapists, including myself, have successfully treated people with diabetes, and will keep on doing so seeing good results. But we can only get better at our work, which will let us train more people and be confident that everyone is providing treatment that we know is effective.

With diabetes and mental health, we’ve come a long way, and we still have a long way to go.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Read more about diabetes burnout, mental health.



The 2 Most Dreaded Responses to My Son’s Type 1 Diabetes

My son, Henry, is young and innocent. In one video we shared at a Children with Diabetes conference, Henry blithely tells the audience about a scrape on his leg, and in the next breath he shows off his pump and continuous glucose monitor (CGM), as though these two were equal. One day the stigma of “diabetes” will outweigh scrapes. But for now, he’s got scrapes, and obviously diabetes isn’t one of them.

When a stranger asks me about the gear Henry is wearing or I explain to a colleague why I had to step out of meeting a few days prior, type 1 diabetes (T1D) comes up, and I briefly explain the basics. Usually, this scenario goes smoothly and hopefully someone understands more about T1D. However, sometimes this moment makes me cringe as an over-sharing stranger tells me about his or her dead grandmother.

When people respond that way after learning of my son’s diagnosis, I believe they’re usually attempting to relate or don’t know what to say. But as a parent of a child with diabetes, the two most dreaded responses from someone who learns of my child’s disease are:

1. Oh, I’m so sorry. My grandma / great aunt / grandfather’s cousin died of diabetes. They were 48 / 52/ 57. At least I think it was type 1, or maybe it was type 2.

I usually say, “I’m sorry to hear that,” but I want to say, “I’m sorry to hear that, but please don’t tell me about your dead relative while I’m grocery shopping with my 4-year-old son who happens to have the same disease that killed your grandma / great aunt / grandfather’s cousin.

2. Well, at least it’s good he has it so young, so he won’t know the difference when he’s older. 

I usually say, “A lot of people say that,” but I want to say, “A lot of people say that, but I’m sure he’s noticed his older sister not wearing a pump and getting blood sugar checks 10 to 12 times a day. He’s also probably noticed that the other 23 kids in his preschool class don’t check their blood sugar, wear pumps or go on field trips with massive medical supplies in a backpack.”

I think Henry’s got some scrapes, but hopefully as people become more educated about T1D, they won’t add a new scrape. The first step toward empathy is meeting someone with T1D, and the second step is learning what to say. It’s great to hear, “I’m sorry to hear that. Can you tell me more about type 1?” or “I’m sorry to hear that. I’m not sure I really understand the difference between type 1 and type 2,” or even, “I’m sorry. I think I know someone else with that.” 

When people meet my son, or anyone with T1D, I want them to understand all the determination and longanimity it takes to keep a blood sugar between the lines. I want people to understand T1D is an autoimmune disease, and there’s nothing Henry did or didn’t do that caused his T1D.

I want people to know a life with T1D can be pretty sweet.

Rachel Morgan