Simple educational and motivational text messages can help people with diabetes manage their blood sugar better, a new study has found. It is not only an extremely affordable and scalable measure, but one that can be applied globally. According to the six-month Chinese study, diabetes patients who received the text messages and standard care reduced their glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c ) by more than patients who just received standard care. The results showed an average reduction in HbA1c of 2 mmol/mol (0.2%) in patients who received the supportive text messages. The group that did not receive the text messages experienced an average increase in HbA1c of 1 moll/mol (0.1%). For the study, the participants were split into two groups: one that received standard diabetes care and two text messages each month thanking them for their participation, and another group that received standard care and up to six text messages per week containing information on subjects like dietary advice, physical activity, emotional support and blood glucose monitoring. As well as actually reducing their HbA1c, the group receiving the supportive text messages also had a greater proportion of patients who achieved their HbA1C target of less than 7% (69.3% vs. 52.6% in the control group). Speaking about the findings of the study, Dr Xiqian Huo, of Beijing's Fuwai Hospital, said: “Lifestyle advice such as strict dietary control may have contributed to glycemic improvements, together with reminders to monitor blood glucose regularly. The messages were designed to provide information and motivation, and help patients set goals and manage stress.” The results of the study were presented at the annual meeting of the European Society of Cardiology on Saturday, August 31 also appear in journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.
Following a low-calorie diet – even for just a few months – can arrest type-2 diabetes for at least two years, new research suggests. The findings of the study highlight that type-2 diabetes might not necessarily be the life sentence we previously thought. Nearly 300 people with type-2 diabetes in Scotland and Tyneside (in the UK) participated in the study. Half were given standard diabetes care, while the other half were put on a structured weight management programme. After 12 months, 46% of those on the low-calorie programme had successfully reversed their type-2 diabetes. In comparison, just 4% of the study participants given the standard treatment had gone into remission. Two years later, 36% of the study participants on the structured weight management programme were still in remission. “People with type 2 diabetes and healthcare professionals have told us their top research priority is: ‘Can the condition be reversed or cured?’ We can now say, with respect to reversal, that yes it can. Now we must focus on helping people maintain their weight loss and stay in remission for life,” said Prof Mike Lean from Glasgow University, who led the study with Taylor. Type-2 diabetes causes blood sugar levels to rise and can lead to serious complications such as amputations, visual problems and heart disease. It is thought that one in 16 adults in the UK is currently living with type-2 diabetes, a condition that is fuelled by obesity. [Related reading: Why being overweight increases your risk of cancer]
Some of the warning signs often associated with type-2 diabetes can be detected years before the disease is actually diagnosed, researchers say. A study found factors such as insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels were seen in people years prior to them developing pre-diabetes – a typical pre-cursor to the type-2 form of the disease. The authors of the Japanese study say their findings suggest that diabetes treatment should begin much earlier in life. For the study, conducted over an 11-year period, the researchers followed a group of 27,000 people who were not diabetic and aged between 30 and 50. The individuals were tracked until they either (a) got diagnosed with type-2 diabetes; (b) got diagnosed with pre-diabetes; or (c) the end of 2016 was reached. During the study, 1,067 new cases of type-2 diabetes were diagnosed. The interesting part is that these people showed warning signs, such as insulin resistance and higher fasting blood sugar levels, up to 10 years prior. Similar warning signs were also seen in those that went on to develop pre-diabetes. So, this suggests that type-2 diabetes could actually be detected up to 20 years before a diagnosis occurs. This is because people who develop type-2 diabetes usually get pre-diabetes first. Dr Hiroyuki Sagesaka, from Aizawa Hospital in Matsumoto, Japan, who led the research, said: “Because trials of prevention in people with pre-diabetes seem to be less successful over long-term follow-up, we may need to intervene much earlier than the pre-diabetes stage to prevent progression to full blown diabetes. “A much earlier intervention trail, either drug or lifestyle-related, is warranted.” [Related reading: Diabetes is actually five diseases, not two]
It’s thought around one in 100 babies has genes that place them at increased risk of developing type 1, insulin-dependent diabetes. And unfortunately, at present, there is no way to prevent type 1 diabetes. But experts believe a new technique may be able to prevent high-risk babies from developing the condition. The idea is to use powdered insulin to train the immune systems of infants so that they are afforded life-long protection. Pregnant women attending maternity check-ups in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire in the UK are being asked to take part in the trial. Trial participants will be split into two groups, with half getting real insulin and the other half a placebo. Neither the participants nor the researchers will know which they received until after the trial. By spoon-feeding an infant insulin powder from six months to three years, experts hope their immune systems will be trained to tolerate insulin and prevent type 1 diabetes. A lifelong condition, type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease which causes insulin-producing cells in the pancreas to be destroyed. As a result, the pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin and the person's blood sugar (glucose) level becomes too high. Speaking about the trial, Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: "This is a huge endeavour, so we would encourage women living in the South East who think they might be eligible to find out more - research like this can't happen without the incredible people who take part." [Related reading: Diabetes is actually five diseases, not two]
Diabetes has long been split into two types: type 1 and type 2. But new research suggests it could actually be five different diseases and treatment could be tailored to tackle each form. Researchers in Sweden and Finland say the more complicated diabetes picture they’ve uncovered could lead to a new era of personalised medicine being ushered in. Affecting approximately one in 11 people around the world, diabetes doesn’t just play havoc with blood sugar levels, but also increases the risk of stroke, blindness, heart attack, kidney failure and limb amputation. Type 1 diabetes, which affects around 10% of sufferers in the UK, is a disease of the immune system that attacks the body’s insulin factories, leading to there being a shortage of the hormone to control blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes, on the other hand, is associated with poor lifestyle choices and obesity, which affect the way in which insulin works. For the study, the researchers analysed blood samples from 14,775 patients. They found that people could be separated into five distinct diabetes clusters. Talking to the BBC, Prof Leif Groop, one of the researchers, said: "This is extremely important, we're taking a real step towards precision medicine. "In the ideal scenario, this is applied at diagnosis and we target treatment better."
A “watershed” trial involving almost 300 people has seen nearly half the participants reverse their type 2 diabetes in just five months. Trial participants followed a low-calorie diet of soups and shakes for up to five months, which led to massive weight loss. One participant, Isobel Murray, 65, who had weighed 15 stone, lost over four stone (25kg) and now no longer needs diabetes pills. "I've got my life back," she says. Prior to the trial, Isobel’s blood sugar levels were too high and her diabetes medication was being increased on a regular basis. So, she went on to the all-liquid diet for 17 weeks and gave up both cooking and shopping. She didn’t even eat meals with her husband during the trial. Following the trial, 46% of participants were in remission a year later and 86% who lost 15kg (2st 5lb) or more put their type 2 diabetes into remission. Just 4% went into remission with the other best treatments currently used. Speaking about the results of the trial, Prof Mike Lean, from Glasgow University, said: "It's hugely exciting. We now have clear evidence that weight loss of 10-15kg is enough to turn this disease (diabetes) around.” The charity Diabetes UK says the trial is a landmark and has the potential to help millions of patients. The findings of the trial, which was conducted by the universities of Newcastle and Glasgow in the UK, were published in The Lancet and presented at the International Diabetes Federation.
People who are overweight or obese, despite appearing medically healthy, are still at increased risk of heart disease, experts warn. The notion that people can be ‘fat but fit’ is being challenged by research published in the European Heart Journal. According to the researchers from Imperial College London and the University of Cambridge, who studied health data relating to more than half a million people in 10 European countries, weight is still a heart disease risk factor even if someone has normal blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. The study found that people who appeared healthy, with healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar readings, were still 28% more likely to develop heart disease than individuals with health bodyweights. Even more at risk were people who were overweight or obese and had high blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Dr Ioanna Tzoulaki, from Imperial's School of Public Health, said: "I think there is no longer this concept of healthy obese. "If anything, our study shows that people with excess weight who might be classed as 'healthy' haven't yet developed an unhealthy metabolic profile. "That comes later in the timeline, then they have an event, such as a heart attack”. So the advice if you want to maintain a healthy heart is to watch your weight, even if you think you are fit.
Honey is one of the sweetest and most natural food products there is. It’s made by bees through a process of regurgitation and evaporation, then stored as a primary food source in wax honeycombs within the beehive. This is usually from where it is harvested for human consumption. But whether you’re a huge fan of honey, or will happily pass it up, there’s no denying the strong association it has long held with health benefits. First up, there’s the fact that many health experts believe that consuming honey instead of sugar results in a more gradual rise in blood sugar levels, which in turn helps to regulate your hunger levels. Honey is also recommended as a natural cough remedy by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the American Academy of Paediatrics. In fact, a 2007 study by Penn State College of Medicine found that honey consumption led to reduced night time coughing and improved sleep quality for children suffering with upper respiratory tract infections. If you suffer with heartburn, you may already know about honey’s effectiveness as a treatment. Experts believe its viscose nature enable it to coat the upper gastroesophageal tract, preventing stomach acid from rising. Lastly, there are honey’s antibacterial properties. It contains the protein defensin-1, which can actually kill bacteria. Furthermore, unpasteurised, raw honey can actually be used as a topical agent on open wounds because of its antibacterial qualities, but should never be used in place of a topical solution prescribed by a doctor.
As we get older, our bodies need a bit more TLC to ensure we’re fighting fit for the challenges that life throws at us. Therefore, when we reach the age of 40, there are certain medical tests which are recommended and specifically designed to check your vital systems. Also, these tests will inevitably be accompanied by a series of questions, so that a full picture of your health can be produced. Depending on the results, you may be given personalised advice by your medical professional and instructed to make lifestyle changes going forward. In some circumstances, you’ll be offered medical treatment to help maintain or improve your health. There are three simple tests that will help your medical professional determine your ‘heart age’. These are as follows: Cholesterol test We all need a certain amount of cholesterol for our bodies to function but there is strong evidence to suggest that too much cholesterol – particularly bad cholesterol – increases the risk of vascular diseases. A simple blood test is used to measure your cholesterol and you’ll know the result right away. Blood pressure test The higher your blood pressure the harder your heart has to work to pump blood around your body. This can not only weaken you heart but also increase your chances of developing a blocked artery. Your blood pressure is measured using a cuff that fits around your upper arm and is inflated. BMI test Your BMI or body mass index determines whether you are a healthy weight for your height. People with higher BMIs have a higher chance of developing certain conditions such as heart disease, certain cancers and stroke. Diabetes assessment In addition to the three tests above, a diabetes risk assessment is also recommended for people over 40. Diabetes occurs when your body does not produce enough insulin or when the insulin it does produce is not as effective as it should be. Your medical professional will ascertain through questions and the results of your blood pressure and BMI tests whether you are at risk of type 2 diabetes. A simple blood test will then confirm if your blood sugar is too high.