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Category: Diabetes

Heart Health Benefits of Nuts

A growing amount of recent research indicates that consumption of nuts can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease: as nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids, fiber, protein, vitamin E, folate, and several minerals, such as potassium, zinc, and magnesium—and boast additional bioactive chemicals, including phenolics and phytosterols. New findings published in Circulation Research, a journal part of the American Heart Association, suggests that eating more nuts can specifically help heart health among people with type 2 diabetes.

The researchers found that any nut consumption delivered benefits; tree nuts demonstrated the strongest association, but even a small amount of nuts produced an effect. The findings indicated that eating five weekly servings of nuts had a 17 percent lower risk of total cardiovascular disease incidence, compared to people with type 2 diabetes who did not consume many nuts. Moreover, there was a 20 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, a 34 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease death, and a 31 percent reduced risk of all-caused mortality.

When compared to people who did not make any significant changes in nut-eating habits after a diagnosis of diabetes, those who increased their intake of nuts had an 11 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease, a 15 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease, a 25 percent lower risk of cardiovascular disease death, and a 27 percent lower risk of all-cause premature death.

A previous 2016 study in the British Medical Journal reinforced the assertion that “higher nut consumption is associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, total CVD, CVD mortality, total CHD, CHD mortality and sudden cardiac death.” Another 2017 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that diabetes risk drops by 40 percent with only 20 grams of nuts each day, and the risk of infectious diseases is lowered by 75 percent.

Notwithstanding the fact that most of the findings stemmed from observational studies with limited sample sizes, a systematic review of clinical trials spanning the last 25 years has confirmed that nuts can indeed benefit cardiovascular health, optimize the aging process, and minimize the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease. While the exact biological mechanisms of nuts regarding heart health remain unclear, but scientists assert that nuts can improve blood pressure and blood sugar control, metabolism of fats, inflammation and blood vessel wall function.

The Influence of Gut Bacteria on Diabetes Drugs

Newly emerging research seeks to investigate the effect of gut microbiota on the efficacy of type 2 diabetes drugs, suggesting that the composition of gut bacteria may illuminate why certain diabetes medications work for some people—and not others.

Estimates indicate that over 415 million people across the globe have type 2 diabetes, a statistic leading some scientists to refer to the condition as a “global pandemic.” While there is no current cure for diabetes, treatments and lifestyle changes can help those living with the disease. Yet pharmaceutical drugs for diabetes have varying rates of success, contingent on the form of administration, and results often vary from person to person.

The research, led by Hariom Yadav, PhD, an assistant professor of molecular medicine at the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, investigates one of the possible causes behind such varying success rates: the gut bacteria. Previous studies cited in the paper published by Yadav and colleagues demonstrate that the gut bacteria can “instigate” obesity and type 2 diabetes, and that people living with diabetes have an overall imbalance in the composition of their gut bacteria.

Moreover, as Yadav explains, there are some drugs for diabetes that are only effective when given intravenously, but not when delivered orally: leading him to believe that gut bacteria are critical in regulating how a person metabolizes drugs. “For example, certain drugs work fine when given intravenously and go directly to the circulation, but when they are taken orally and pass through the gut, they don’t work. Conversely, metformin, a commonly used anti-diabetes drug, works best when given orally but does not work when given through an IV.”

Based on these observations, the researchers sought to understand whether or not the composition of gut bacteria directly influences the efficacy of certain diabetes medications. Yadav and colleagues reviewed over 100 studies of rodents and humans, and published their findings in the journal EBioMedicine.

How the microbiome can influence drugs

The research focused on the ways in which the microbiome either enhanced or reduced the drugs’ effectiveness, finding that regulating the gut microbiome with drugs could help alter, enhance, or even reverse the success of drugs for type 2 diabetes. Yadav summarized the findings by stating: “We believe that differences in an individual’s microbiome help explain why drugs will show a 90 or 50 percent optimum efficacy, but never 100 percent…our review showed that the metabolic capacity of a patient’s microbiome could influence the absorption and function of these drugs by making them pharmacologically active, inactive, or even toxic.”

Nevertheless, researchers must conduct additional studies to “continue to decipher the interactions between the gut bacteria and diabetes drugs” in clinical practice and further applications. Yadav adds, “This field is only a decade old, and the possibility of developing treatments derived from bacteria related to or involved in specific diseases is tantalizing.”

The latest report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that over 100 million adults in the United States are currently living with diabetes or prediabetes.