Eating for Optimal Health: Nuts and Blood Sugar
Nuts and Blood Sugar
Online publications, PLOS ONE and British Medical Journal Open (BMJ Open), recently published two latest meta-analyses on tree nuts including walnuts, pistachios, pine nuts, pecans, macadamias, hazelnuts, cashews, Brazil nuts and almonds. The article published in BMJ Open examined the impact of tree nuts on Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). It demonstrated that the consumption of tree nuts result in drastically decreasing fasting blood glucose and triglycerides, showing a correlation between nuts and blood sugar. The article published in PLOS ONE highlighted the impact of tree nuts on glycemic control in diabetes. It demonstrated a major reduction in the levels of fasting blood glucose and HbA1c.
Both these meta-analyses were conducted by researchers of University of Toronto. The study that focused on MetS analyzed 47 control trials (randomized) which included 2,200 participants who were either healthy or suffered from type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia (increased levels of triglycerides and/or blood cholesterol) or MetS criteria.
According to the lead researcher of this study, Cyril Kendall (PhD), consuming 2 ounces of tree nuts daily can reduce triglycerides by ~0.06 mmol/L and fasting blood glucose was reduced considerably by ~0.08 mmol/L after an average of eight weeks. These studies into the effects of eating nuts and blood sugar maintenance and cardiovascular health are vital in understanding how diet affects health and longevity.
This information is crucial as MetS is a source of various risk factors that are linked with mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular disease and five times more risk of type 2 diabetes. Even though the criteria of diagnosis differ, the mere existence of three of the following five conditions can result in MetS:
- Hyperglycemia (high levels of blood sugar),
- High blood pressure,
- Low HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol),
- Increased triglycerides,
- Abdominal obesity.
According to data presented by NHANES from 2003 to 2006, 34.3% of America’s population is estimated to have MetS.
Additional to the nuts’ impact on MetS, the study also investigated the impact of tree nuts on glycemic control on individuals with diabetes. The analysis included in PLOS ONE was based on 12 clinical trials (randomized) with 450 participants. This study made a comparison between the consequences of diet that emphasized tree nuts and consequences of isocaloric diet without tree nuts on HbA1c, insulin resistance (HOMA-1R), fasting insulin and fasting blood glucose.
According to the results of the research, the diet that included almost 2 ounces of tree nuts daily drastically reduced fasting glucose (P=0.03) and HbA1c (P=0.0003) as compared to other diets. None of the diets demonstrated any major impact on insulin resistance and fasting insulin, however, the direction of impact was in favor of tree nuts.
Dr. Kendall explained that both analyses indicated that consumption of tree nuts everyday has enhanced metabolic benefits and improves metabolic syndrome risk factors and glycemic control in people suffering from Type 2 diabetes.
According to the Executive Director of International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation (INC NREF), Maureen Ternus M.S., R.D., with a global increase in diabetes and MetS, these results are another reason of including tree nuts in your everyday diet. FDA, in 2003, recommended in its competent claim for heart disease and nuts that a daily consumption of 1.5 ounce nuts can prove highly beneficial for the people. This recommended amount is quite higher than the existing levels of consumption. Ternus emphasized on the need to spread awareness among the people, especially the ones suffering or at risk of diabetes and MetS, and encourage them to daily consume a handful of nuts.
The Pancreas and Blood Sugar
The pancreas is also an essential organ in the role it plays in regulation of insulin. Which is one of the primary regulators of glucose in our body. The pancreas is an organ is one component of the metabolic response in the neuroendometabolic (NEM) function which deals with stress. The other organs being the thyroid and liver which are responsible for the proper metabolic response the body needs when the right amount of fuel is provided at the right time. It is one of the body’s first defences or reactions to a stressful influence, as well as activating the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, the metabolic response comes into play to raise the basal metabolic rate in the body, to position the body in a state of readiness, increasing supply of glucose to the brain. When the metabolic response or any of the included organs are deregulated, it can lead to initial warning signs of NEM disruption, such as abdominal obesity that can be commmonly seen in stages 1 and 2 of adrenal fatigue syndrome. If the body at some point has reached stage 3 of adrenal fatigue, it can experience symptoms of weight loss and muscle atrophy in severe cases.
With recent research findings into consuming nuts and blood sugar levels, cardiovascular health, and overall disease prevention show the importance of including nuts as part of any healthy diet. Nuts provide the body with healthy fats, consistent energy, fiber, and many other essential building blocks for a healthy life.
Source: Plos One July 2014
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