With the news that 1 in 3 of us are at risk of developing diabetes, without having any symptoms, I thought I would write a blog highlighting recent research into diet and the risk of obesity which can lead to diabetes and other degenerative conditions.

A recent study in Spain showed that eating full fat yoghurt can reduce the risk of becoming obese.  In a study of 8,500 women and men, none of whom were obese or overweight, 1,860 developed one of these conditions over a 6 year period.  Researchers discovered that eating one of more portions of full fat yoghurt daily reduced the risk by 19% while eating low fat yoghurt had no significant effect.

This may be because food manufacturers add sugar to low fat yoghurts to make up the lack of fat or because those who are obese are more likely to choose a low fat version.

American researchers have found that reducing carbohydrate intake could reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence among women whose tumor tissue is positive for the IGF-1 receptor. Author, Jennifer Lemond said “There is a growing body of research demonstrating associations between obesity, diabetes, and cancer risk’.  Although more research needs to be conducted, they advise that high sugar carbohydrates such as refined grains, starchy vegetables and added sugar should be limited to reduce the risk.

Curcumin,one of the compounds found in turmeric has a potent effect in moderating insulin levels and reducing insulin resistance. A study at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, found that curcumin can increase a person’s sensitivity to insulin lowering his/her total blood sugar.

Tip: add turmeric to rice dishes and use in marinades for meat, poultry and fish before barbecueing.

Green tea contains the compound epigallocatechin (EGCG) which boosts your metabolic rate and reduces your appetite. The spice ginger is also thermogenic helping to raise the body temperature which helps burn calories.

Tip: drink iced green tea as a refreshing summer drink.  Pour 500ml of boiling water on 2-3 green tea bags and a knob of fresh grated ginger and infuse for 15 minutes.  Strain and cool before topping up with 250-500ml cold water adding fresh lemon and lime slices and ice.  Adding a couple cinnamon sticks with the teabags will add another twist (see below) and you could throw in a big bunch of fresh mint along with the citrus.

According to a study published in the Diabetes Care Journal, cinnamon is a highly effective remedy against type ll diabetes. The study showed that it has the ability to improve glucose levels and lipid levels by activating insulin receptors. It also reduces the total serum glucose, triglycerides and total cholesterol readings because it stimulates the enzyme systems that regulate carbohydrate metabolism.

Tip: You can sprinkle cinnamon on your yoghurt or porridge and also use in cooking.  However another great way to get cinnamon into your diet is to drink it as a tea:  boil a couple of cinnamon sticks in water for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid and drink – you could add lemon juice and slices of ginger to add more flavour.

Gut bacteria have been shown to play a role in obesity after studies comparing intestinal bacteria in obese and lean individuals showed the latter had a more diverse range of beneficial bacteria.  They found that leaner individuals had a wider variety of Bacteroidetes, microbes that specialize in breaking down bulky plant starches and fibre into molecules that the body can use as a source of energy.

Tip: eat bio live yoghurt (full fat – see above!) to add beneficial bacteria and eat plenty of ‘prebiotic’ foods such as the onion family, artichokes, asparagus, berries, plums and legumes and include some whole grains in the diet.