According the Centers on Disease Control, 86 million US adults over 20 have been diagnosed as prediabetic. With above-normal blood glucose levels, many prediabetic patients are likely to develop type 2 diabetes over time.
Prediabetes can follow one of two types of health conditions. In one type, the livers inefficiently absorbs glucose. In the second types problems arise with the muscles’ capacity to take up glucose.
Although diet changes can be helpful in slowing down the progression of prediabetes to Type 2 diabetes, the two types of pre-diabetes conditions do not respond equally to the same dietary changes.
This was observed in a study conducted by researchers at London’s King’s College, which found that pre-diabetes of the muscular glucose intake type may respond to a diet of increased polyunsaturated fats and reduced or eliminated saturated fats.
Researchers conducted a Food Frequency Questionnaire asking groups of respondents including athletes, and obese people, and pre diabetic and type 2 diabetes patients about their diets. The primary aim of the study was to gauge how consumption of dietary fatty acid affects blood glucose levels, both fasting and 2 hours after eating. Baseline measurements of fatty acid composition of prediabetic respondents’ blood confirmed their self-reported diets high in saturated fats.
Later, after replacing saturated fats in their diets with polyunsaturated fats, blood samples of the prediabetic participants with problematic muscular glucose absorption showed a marked decrease in progression towards type 2 diabetes.
Researchers reported that higher fasting and 2-hour blood glucose levels clearly corresponded with diets high in saturated fats. However, the 2-hour blood glucose levels improved with a diet featuring trans fats and polyunsaturated fats.
The research team hopes to “build on this work with larger studies, and ultimately test this idea in a randomized trial,” to gain further understanding about how dietary substitution of saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats improves one type of diabetes, and why it does not seem to affect the other.
In the meantime, pre-diabetics whose condition results from lack of muscular glucose uptake may gain health benefits by making the important dietary changes studied by the King’s College researchers. Replacing foods with saturated fats, like red meat, pork, butter and cheese with tofu based foods and fish high in polyunsaturated fats, namely salmon, tuna, sardines, mackerel, and trout, is one way to keep type 2 diabetes at bay.