subject: diabetes

Biochemical Evidence that Breastfeeding Reduces the Odds of Diabetes

Biochemical Evidence that Breastfeeding Reduces the Odds of Diabetes

What percentage of people with diabetes have yet to be diagnosed? In one advanced democracy with a good public health system—the United Kingdom—the figure is thought to be about 20%. Common sense suggests that in countries where healthcare is not free at the point of use, this percentage is probably higher. Because so many people who have diabetes do not know it, studies of diabetes that rely on self-reported cases always come with a sliver of doubt. This is why some newly published research by Erica P. Gunderson of Kaiser Permanente, and her colleagues, is important. It is the first long-term study—using biochemical diagnosis—to show that breastfeeding reduces the odds of a woman developing diabetes. Read More...

Camel’s Milk Offers Hope Against Diabetes

Camel’s Milk Offers Hope Against Diabetes

A little over a decade ago, an article appeared in a journal devoted to diabetes research claiming that the disease did not exist among the camel-milking drinking Raica community, a group living in the desert of northwest India, in the state of Rajasthan. The study had surveyed more than 2,000 people. The defining factor in the Raica community’s healthy blood glucose levels appeared to be their camel milk consumption, not genetics, nor a holistically healthy lifestyle. Read More...

Getting the Balance Right

Getting the Balance Right

Once described as an epidemic, obesity has now reached pandemic status with an estimated 600 million obese adults worldwide, and an additional 1.4 billion that are overweight. The cause of the pandemic is known—people consuming more energy (calories) than they expend—so it would seem that the solution would be to simply eat less. But a team of nutritional ecologists believes that cutting calories will not solve anything, because it ignores some basic tenets of human (and animal) biology. Using data from fruit flies, mice, birds, fish, monkeys, and humans, Raubenheimer, Simpson and their colleagues demonstrate a seemingly universal law of animal nutrition: a predominant appetite for protein. They propose that the human need to meet a fixed daily protein target leads to weight gain through the overconsumption of low protein foods that have come to dominate the Western diet. Rather than advocating for a high protein diet that eschews carbohydrates, they emphasize a balance of macronutrients for optimal health. Can dairy help strike this balance? Whole-food sources of protein that are easy to access, like dairy, can help balance out those beloved low-protein, high-carbohydrate processed foods and keep energy consumption in check. Read More...

Do Larger Breasts Make More Milk?

Do Larger Breasts Make More Milk?

Large breasts are often considered more attractive, but how about their function as organs destined to produce milk for the nourishment of the baby? During pregnancy and, particularly during lactation, women are mostly interested in their breasts as sources of food and growth signals for their baby. But, especially among women with breastfeeding difficulties, it is common for women to wonder, “If I had larger breasts, would I produce more milk?” Read More...

A Tale of Fats, Fish, Dolphins, and Dairy

A Tale of Fats, Fish, Dolphins, and Dairy

For decades, we have been warned about the evils of saturated fats in our food. We have heard that this whole “family” of fats increases our “bad cholesterol,” and hence increases our risk of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Recently, however, this widely accepted mantra has been challenged by growing evidence that some saturated fats, such as milk fats, do the exact opposite: they appear to reduce our risk of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes. While scientists debate the mechanisms involved, the changing view on saturated fats is underpinned by a new study of some unexpected contenders: dolphins (1). Read More...

Dairy Foods and Insulin Resistance

Dairy Foods and Insulin Resistance

Can being more sensitive make you healthier? It can, if you are one of the nearly 30 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes. Although type 2 diabetics produce insulin, they have a very low sensitivity to this hormone. Without injecting additional insulin, blood sugar levels reach unhealthy levels that, over time, can result in damage to the kidneys, nerves, and blood vessels. While diabetics are instructed to avoid foods that raise blood sugar levels, there are other foods that could be ideal for diabetics because they can increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin. Topping this list are dairy foods such as milk and yogurt that have bioactive factors that increase the body’s response to insulin and a low glycemic index. But despite these demonstrated physiological actions, many studies have failed to show any effect of increased dairy intake on blood glucose metabolism. Two new review papers (1, 2) help make sense of these conflicting findings and suggest the discrepancy may have more to do with the complexities of studying a metabolic disease, than the biological effects of dairy on insulin tolerance. Read More...

Diabetes and Breastfeeding

Diabetes and Breastfeeding

When it comes to understanding the links between breastfeeding and diabetes, causation runs both ways. Diabetes can influence if and for how long a new mother breastfeeds. On the other hand, developing diabetes during pregnancy and lactation can affect mother’s metabolic health later in life. As more studies in these fields generate results, a complex picture is emerging of interacting risk factors. Read More...

Insulin Control = More Mammary Tissue, More Milk, Bigger Babies

Insulin Control = More Mammary Tissue, More Milk, Bigger Babies

We know insulin as a regulator of blood sugar, but it also influences cell growth and differentiation. This is especially relevant to mammary tissue during pregnancy and lactation. A role for insulin in lactation has been accepted for some time, but some questions have remained about its role during pregnancy—when the mammary gland is developing—and the relative roles of insulin and insulin-like growth factors. Clarifying the role of insulin in lactation was the aim of the study by Neville and colleagues. They used a mouse model system, and in an elegant approach, bred a mouse line in which the receptor for insulin was selectively deleted in the cells that produce milk. Read More...

Visions of Human Milk Production

Visions of Human Milk Production

One cell, all by itself, can make milk. A single cell makes a very tiny amount, however, while more of them working together make a copious supply (or so we hope). That some mothers are not able to make enough milk is exactly what motivated scientists at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and University of California, Davis to determine what genes are turned "on" to make milk. Read More...

Growing Evidence for Thinner Dairy Consumers

Growing Evidence for Thinner Dairy Consumers

Does dairy make you fat? Being rich in lipids, it should, right? But some evidence suggests that the calories in dairy are somehow easier to burn up than they should be. While the effect is subtle (and certainly not apparent in every set of data), it is sufficient for physiologists to wonder about potential biochemical explanations. Read More...