Coffee: Can You Lower Your Risk of Diabetes by Drinking It?

coffee with milk forming heart pattern

What You Need to Know: A new study published in the journal Diabetologia has revealed that increasing your daily consumption of coffee may help protect against diabetes. According to the researchers, individuals who increased their daily coffee intake by more than one cup over a four-year period had an 11 percent lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

“The link between coffee consumption and type 2 diabetes is pretty well established,” lead author Shilpa Bhupathiraju, research fellow in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. “What we don’t know is what happens when people change their consumption. That’s never been studied, but that reflects people changing their diet in real life.”

The Study: Bhupathiraju and her team utilized data from three large cohorts: 48,464 women in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital-based Nurses’ Health Study (1986 – 2006); 47,510 women in the Nurses’ Health Study II (1991 – 2007); and 27,759 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986 – 2007). For all the groups, diet was assessed every four years, while medical and lifestyle changes were reported every two years. Over the study periods, 7,269 people developed type 2 diabetes. The Evidence: The researchers found that changing coffee consumption – either increasing it or lowering it – had an impact on the risk for diabetes.

“Compared to those who made no changes to coffee consumption habits over a four-year period, those who increased coffee by more than a cup each day had an 11 percent lower risk of type 2 diabetes,” Bhupathiraju reports. “Those who decreased coffee consumption by more than cup had a 17 percent higher risk of type 2 diabetes.”

Can I Get the Same Benefits By Drinking Tea or Decaffeinated Coffee? Overall, they didn’t see any association between diabetes risk and these types of beverages, but Bhupathiraju explained that few people in the study made changes to their decaf or tea consumption, making the numbers too low to analyze well. As for why caffeinated coffee may have this protective health effect, Bhupathiraju said the morning drink holds a number of beneficial compounds, which may play important roles in both metabolism and cardiovascular health.

“Coffee has a lot of bioactive compounds and phenolic compounds, such as chlorogenic acid. Chlorogenic acid improves glucose metabolism in animal models that have been studied,” she explains. Coffee also has other compounds like lignans, and it’s also a source of magnesium, which is associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes.”

So Coffee is Recommended? Coffee isn’t without its critics. Although recent research has pointed to many of the drink’s health benefits, other studies have also found some downsides associated with the beverage – with one study linking heavy coffee consumption with a higher risk of early death. Bhupathiraju offers that coffee isn’t a miracle “drug” by any means, and it’s important not to drink too much.

“With respect to chronic disease, there’s been consistent evidence that, up to six cups a day, it’s associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. The evidence is pretty solid,” Bhupathiraju said. “For cardiovascular disease, you see a U-shaped association. So there’s no association at the lower end or higher end, but you see a protective effect in the middle. So three cups a day, you see a lower risk.”

My Take: The keys to enhancing health are maintenance of a healthy body weight and following a healthy lifestyle (proper nutrition and exercise). In this context, moderate coffee consumption appears to be associated with lower chronic disease. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and I live in that center of coffee consumption, Seattle. And there is none who loves the smell of coffee more than does this blogger! But… to my LDS friends… don’t do it!

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad: Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

References: http://nypost.com/2014/04/25/more-coffee-every-day-might-keep-type-2-diabetes-away/?utm_source=Harvard+Magazine+e-mail+newsletters&utm_campaign=dc99f2e8d7-HARVARD_HEADLINES&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d59fecc95b-dc99f2e8d7-85086237; Diabetologia (2005) 48: 1418 DOI 10.1007/s00125-005-1790-7

Do Certain Fruits Decrease Diabetes Risk?

blueberries

Specific whole fruits (particularly blueberries) are significantly associated with a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Fruit juice, on the other hand, is linked to a greater risk.

The daily whole fruit and fruit juice consumption of 187382 participants (who were free of major chronic diseases at baseline) was analyzed over nearly 3.5 million person-years of follow-up to determine the association between certain fruits and the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The Study: The subjects were drawn from the Nurses’ Health Study (1984-2008; N=121700), Nurses’ Health Study II (1991-2009; N=116671) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986-2008; N=51529). Participants completed questionnaires every 4 years. To account for other variables, a follow-up questionnaire was administered eery 2 years for updates on anthropometric and lifestyle factors, including body weight, height, cigarette use, physical activity, and family history of diabetes. The follow-up rate was 90%.

Results:

  • Dietary modifications among other lifestyle changes prevent development of type 2 diabetes
  • Whole fruits contain more phytochemicals, fiber, and antioxidants (and thus more health benefits) than fruit juice.
  • Blueberries significantly decrease the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Fruit juice significantly increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

For individual fruits, the pooled hazard ratios of type 2 diabetes for every three servings/week were 0.74 for blueberries; 0.88 for grapes and raisins; 0.89 for prunes; 0.93 for apples and pears; 0.95 for bananas and grapefruit; 0.97 for peaches, plums, and apricots; 0.99 for oranges; 1.03 for strawberries; and 1.1 for cantaloupe.

My Take: This study adds to the literature showing benefits to consuming whole fruits and vegetables. Prior studies have been inconsistent in linking fruit consumption and a decreased risk of diabetes. Get the fruit through whole foods, rather than juices. And certain fruits, including blueberries, may be better than others. Cantaloupe may increase risk among men who consume i more than once per month. Glycemic index did not predict which fruits reduced risk. Finally, fruit juice consumption does not reduce the chances of getting diabetes.

What You Should Consider: Aim for 5 vegetables and fruits daily. But remember, not all have similar safety profiles. The so-called Dirty Dozen (best to eat organic, if possible) include: Apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines, peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, and sweet bell peppers. The Clean Fifteen include: Asparagus, avocado, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapple, sweet peas, and sweet potatoes. This list is from the Environmental Working Group.

I’m Dr. Michael Hunter, and I have a handful of blueberries next to me as I write this blog!

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

References: Integrative Medicine 16(12), December 2013; British Medical Journal 2013;347:f5001.

Cinnamon May Reduce Your Blood Sugar, But How?

cinnamon

Glucose is the simple sugar that circulates in the blood. Our cells rely on it for energy, so glucose needs a way to get from the bloodstream into cells. Insulin is a hormone that also circulates in the blood. When insulin attaches to insulin receptors on the outside of cells , it’s as if doors to the cells swing open and glucose is allowed in. In people with type 2 diabetes, cells resist this effect of insulin, so glucose doesn’t get into cells and builds up in the blood instead.

Cinnamon contains several chemicals that stimulate insulin receptors so glucose can get into cells and that means levels in the blood go down. There’s some debate about exactly which chemicals are the critical ones. While the evidence for a cinnamon benefit on blood sugar is suggestive, it is not sufficiently high level to allow us to advocate substituting it for conventional medicine. Still, exercise, maintenance of a body mass index of 20 to 25, and a bit of cinnamon are all reasonable. I’m Dr. Michael Hunter.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Both can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minute; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. Thank you.

Nuts: Can They Lower the Risk of Diabetes?

English: a walnut and a walnut core

First of all, I should state what may be obvious: There is an epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the USA and in the world. Fortunately, lifestyle and diet are key drivers of the phenomenon, so there is hope that we can change the incidence of the disease. Research suggests that the type of fat eaten may play a role. Higher intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs – don’t say it like Sam Jackson) and lower consumption of saturated fat and trans fat lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Recent study: A prospective study done as part of the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS)and the NHS II looked at walnuts and other nuts. The goal? To better understand the nut-diabetes reduction link. They also tracked body mass index.

The results: Tree nut and peanut consumption are linked to lower rates of the development of diabetes, but not when adjusted for body mass index. On the other hand, walnuts appear to be independently associated with a lower rate of development of type 2 diabetes, even when adjusted for body mass index. More than 2 servings per week reduced risk by about a third!

My take: We probably should eat nuts, especially walnuts. In moderation, of course. Watch out for the caloric density of the nuts, and remember to aim for a health body mass index of 20-25. But… maybe the consumers of walnuts in the study also ate more health foods. There was no subgroup analysis to remove confounding variables like that. Still, I personally eat half a dozen walnuts 2 to 3 times per week.

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page.

Coming Soon for iPad:  Understand Breast Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes. Available now: Understand Colon Cancer in 60 Minutes; Understand Brain Glioma in 60 Minutes. All can be found at the Apple Ibooks store. Thank you.