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Muscle up and reduce your risk of prediabetes
A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism shows that higher muscle mass (relative to body size) is associated with better insulin sensitivity and a lower risk of diabetes and prediabetes. Although previous studies have shown that very low muscle mass is a risk factor for insulin resistance, this is the first to show increasing muscle mass to average and above average levels, independent of obesity levels, would lead to improved BGLs. ‘Our findings represent a departure from the usual focus of clinicians, and their patients, on just losing weight to improve metabolic health,’ says senior author, Preethi Srikanthan. ‘Instead, this research suggests a role for maintaining fitness and building muscle. This is a welcome message for many overweight patients who experience difficulty in achieving weight loss, as any effort to get moving and keep fit should be seen as laudable and contributing to metabolic change.’

Older man lifting weights

Red meat and diabetes risk
A study by Harvard researchers published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds a strong association between the consumption of red meat – particularly when the meat is processed – and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers found that, for an individual who eats one daily serving of red meat, substituting one serving of nuts per day was associated with a 21% lower risk of type 2 diabetes; substituting low-fat dairy, a 17% lower risk; and substituting whole grains, a 23% lower risk. Based on these results, they advise that consumption of processed red meat like hot dogs, bacon, sausage, and deli meats, which generally have high levels of sodium and nitrites, should be minimised and unprocessed red meat should be reduced. If possible, they add, red meat should be replaced with healthier choices, such as nuts, wholegrains, low-fat dairy products, fish, or beans (legumes).

‘The evidence linking diets high in processed meats with risk of type 2 diabetes is very consistent’ says Dr Alan Barclay. ‘While a diet moderately high in protein has been proven to help with long term weight loss, the protein should come from a variety of plant and animal sources and processed meats should be limited to no more than one serve a week.’

Processed meats

Green vegies, dried fruit, legumes and brown rice linked to fewer colon polyps
Eating legumes at least three times a week and brown rice at least once a week was linked to a reduced risk of colon polyps by 33% and 40% percent respectively according to the findings of a study in Nutrition and Cancer. The researchers also found that tucking into cooked green vegetables once every day or more (compared to less than 5 times a week) was associated with a 24% reduced risk; and having some dried fruit 3 times a week or more (compared with less than once a week) was associated with a 26% reduced risk. ‘Legumes, dried fruits, and brown rice all have a high fibre content known to dilute potential carcinogens,’ says lead author Dr Tantamango. ‘Additionally, cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, contain detoxifying compounds, which would improve their protective function.’

Cauliflower and broccoli bake
Credit: Kaye Foster-Powell’s The Low GI Family Cookbook (Hachette)

What’s new?
# 1 Issue Bees are in decline. Bees are important for agriculture, the economy and the health of ecosystems and they are in decline. Without bees, it would be pretty hard and probably prohibitively expensive to eat that plant-based diet that’s so widely recommended as more than one-third of the world’s fruits, vegetables and flowering plants depend on pollination by bees. A timely, informative and beautifully written book new book, The Beekeeper’s Lament by Hannah Nordhaus, provides ‘an engaging account of the men and insects, who put food on our tables’ and the huge problems that they face today. Published by HarperCollins, it’s available from bookshops and Amazon.


#2 Download Diabetes UK Evidence-based nutrition guidelines for the prevention and management of diabetes These guidelines for healthcare professionals and people living with diabetes provide information about nutritional interventions that will assist in making appropriate food choices to reduce risk and improve glycemic control and quality of life.

#3 Download UK National diet and nutrition survey. Findings suggest that the overall picture of the diet and nutrition of the UK population is broadly similar to previous surveys. Intakes of saturated fat and sugars remain above recommended levels.

#4 Download Energy density, portion size, and eating occasions: contributions to increased energy intake in the US, 1977–2006 published in PLoS Medicine suggests that efforts to reduce obesity should focus on reducing the number of meals and snacks and portion sizes. The researchers examined US population and dietary data dating back to 1977 and found that average total daily energy intake increased from about 1803 calories in 1977–78 to 2374 calories in 2003–06, an increase of 571 calories a day.

#5 Cookbook – Ian Thorpe’s Cook for Your Life

Ian Thorpe’s Cook for Your Life

In Ian Thorpe’s first cookbook, the Olympic Gold medallist and long-time GI supporter shares some of his favourite recipes as well as his philosophy on diet gleaned from experts in nutrition and performance. Although it’s what we’d call a ‘meaty’ book (chapters cover seafood, poultry, beef and kangaroo, lamb and pork) it’s good to see many low GI ingredients featuring such as beans and lentils, parsnips, pears, pearl barley, quinoa along with a chapter of vegetarian fare. The introduction is particularly fascinating as Ian describes how he has had to rethink the way he eats at different times in his life to keep in shape from being an elite athlete to when he stopped swimming competitively. Published by Hardie Grant and available from bookshops and the iBookstore

GI Group: Make your healthy eating pattern low GI and ‘cruise instead of spike and crash’ says Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe who generously donated his time to enable the GI Foundation to get the word out about quality carbs and a healthy low GI. The commercial provides a brief explanation of the GI and shows a range of typical high and low GI foods: