Sometimes it seems as if there's a news announcement of some diabetes-related research almost every day. Some of them represent major advances or new theories that may eventually lead to cures.
Others are simply statistical analyses that show that food X or behavior Y increases or decreases diabetes risks by Z percent. I find these stories pretty dull, as we all have a pretty good idea of what is healthy and what is not, and many of these studies are sponsored by the manufacturers of the foods that are studied.
But sometimes studies are reported that are interesting, but probably not important enough to warrant an entire blog post. So I thought I'd give a roundup of some of those that have appeared in the past several months.
Mutations in a single gene makes mice eat more and get obese. We all know that mouse studies don't always translate into human studies. In fact, if you want to make sure you don't get diabetes in your next incarnation, the best way would be to try to come back as a mouse, as we can cure them in myriad ways.
The reason this study, which shows that mice with a particular gene eat more and become obese, is interesting is that approximately 25% of Americans carry a mutation in the analogous gene, called BDNF. It's an example of the fact that some people have a more difficult time avoiding obesity than others do. That's something many of us know intuitively, but others refuse to believe it.
Vinegar reduces blood glucose levels after meals. This is not really news; books on the glycemic index noted years ago that vinegar reduces the glycemic index. What I find interesting is that according to this report the vinegar increases the liver levels of a molecule called AMPK, which is the same molecule that metformin affects.
High-GI diets are linked to fatty liver disease. Paté de fois gras (or paté made from fatty goose livers) is made by force-feeding geese with grains. It seems that "fois gras" can also result in humans who eat too many high-GI, high-carb meals.
A study of Italians showed twice the rate of fatty liver disease in those with high-GI diets. But so-called subgroup analysis showed that this was true only in people with insulin resistance.
This is interesting because it shows that a diet that works for people without insulin resistance may be a disaster with those who do have insulin resistance.
Overweight people's brains don't respond to satiety signals as easily as brains of the nonobese. This is another illustration of the fact that obesity is not the result of a character flaw but can result when people's physiological controls are abnormal. The article includes links to other studies showing that various differences in the brains of obese people may cause them to eat more.
Decreases in the level of a protein called menin during pregnancy allow beta cells to multipy. At first, the results of this study sound wonderful. All we'd have to do is figure out how to block the protein menin and make our beta cells grow.