GI News Briefs

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When exercising, put the time in
‘If you want to say goodbye to cholesterol, you’ve got to get active,’ says Nicole Senior in Eat to Beat Cholesterol. ‘Being active can decrease bad (LDL) cholesterol levels, increase good (HDL) cholesterol levels, improve blood flow and increase your heart’s ability to do its job – pumping blood around your body.’ In a new study published in the May 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, Dr Satoru Kodama and colleagues from Ochanomizu University in Japan showed that with regular aerobic exercise, it’s duration per session that counts most for seeing a modest increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level. When people exercised between 23 and 74 minutes per session, each 10-minute increase in duration was associated with a 1.4 mg/dL increase in HDL cholesterol. Neither frequency nor intensity correlated well with an increase in HDL cholesterol according to the researchers.
Archives of Internal Medicine. 2007;167:999-1008


The gentle benefits of tai chi
If you don’t want to pound the pavements, hit the treadmill or blaze around the bike trail, try the slow rhythmic reaching, deliberate stretching and waist turning moves of tai chi or tai chi chuan as it’s officially called. This traditional Chinese martial art that’s classified as ‘moderate exercise’ is reputed to burn more calories than surfing and nearly as many as downhill skiing. Better still it’s suitable for young and old, the fit, the infirm and can even be adapted for the wheelchair bound. And if you have type 2 diabetes, it can decrease your A1C’s. Shu-Hui Yek and colleagues from Taiwan writing in March 2007 Diabetes Care report that 32 men and women with diabetes who did three 1-hour tai chi sessions a week for 12 weeks with an expert tai chi master had statistically significant reductions in their A1C’s. They also showed increases in their regulatory T cell counts.
Diabetes Care, Volume 30, Number 3, March 2007


Pick the winning pattern
Two studies published in March highlight the importance of your whole diet if you want to reduce your risk of insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. Writing in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Ahmad Esmaillzadeh from the Isfahan University of Medical Sciences in Iran and colleagues report that a dietary pattern ‘characterized by a high consumption of fruit, vegetables, poultry and legumes is associated with reduced risk of insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome in Tehrani female teachers.’ They conclude by noting that ‘in contrast a dietary pattern with high amounts of refined grains, red meat, processed meat and high fat dairy products and low amounts of vegetables and low fat dairy products is associated with greater risk of the metabolic syndrome.’
American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;85:910-918


‘Avoiding an eating pattern including meats and fatty foods and favouring a pattern high in salad and cooked vegetables could reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes,’ said Dr Allison Hodge in an interview with Reuters Health in March. Hodge and colleagues from the University of Melbourne, Australia, examined the association between four dietary patterns and type 2 diabetes in a 4-year prospective study of 36,787 adults. During the follow-up (31,641 completed this), 365 new cases of type 2 diabetes were diagnosed.

Using a factor analysis of 124 food and beverage items, the researchers defined four eating patterns. ‘Factor 1, characterized by olive oil, salad vegetables, and legumes and by avoidance of sweet bakery items, margarine, and tea, was associated with country of birth but not with diabetes. Factor 2, characterized by salad and cooked vegetables, was inversely associated with diabetes. Factor 3, characterized by meats and fatty foods, was associated with increased diabetes risk. A range of fruits loaded strongly on factor 4, which showed little association with diabetes.’

Writing in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the authors recommend avoiding a dietary pattern that includes meats and fatty foods, and sticking to one including salad and cooked vegetables, to reduce risk of diabetes. ‘It may be that these eating patterns contribute to diabetes risk through an impact on body weight; overweight and obesity are still the most important risk factors for type 2 diabetes,’ says Hodge.
American Journal of Epidemiology 2007; 165:603-610