Research led by a dietitian at King’s College London has found that replacing saturated fat in the diet with polyunsaturated fat, found in foods such as vegetable oils or nuts, is linked to slower progress of Type 2 diabetes in people with prediabetes whose muscles do not take up glucose properly.
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes. Previous evidence has shown that prediabetes can be split into two distinct conditions, one in which the liver produces too much glucose and one in which glucose is not taken up properly by the muscles. The study is the first to consider the differing effects of dietary fats on prediabetes as two separate conditions, although previous studies have shown that dietary fats have an effect on insulin sensitivity.
This study also considers the distinct paths of diabetes development compared with previous studies, which have predominantly used ‘full blown’ diabetes as the measure of progression for the condition.
Currently, weight loss is regarded as the most effective way to prevent the progression of diabetes in patients with prediabetes but researchers examined whether a targeted dietary intervention could have additional impact for patients alongside a weight loss programme. They found that, in the condition where glucose uptake into muscles is impaired, replacing saturated fats in the diet with polyunsaturated fats had a beneficial effect in slowing the development of diabetes. It is thought that this is because polyunsaturated fats promote uptake of glucose by the insulin receptors in the muscles.
In people whose livers were producing too much glucose, reducing saturated fat was found to be linked to slower progress of diabetes but replacing it with polyunsaturated fat was found to have no effect.
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