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Nutrients help kids manage and avoid diabetes

Diabetes Update: Nutrients help kids manage and avoid diabetes


Omega-3s and leucine promote insulin production
In type 1 diabetes, which usually occurs in the young, the pancreas does not produce enough insulin to metabolize food properly because the immune system mistakenly attacks beta cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This study followed 1,316 youth, aged one to 20, who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes for at least 10 months, and who had tested positive for the beta cell immune antibody.
Doctors added foods rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, and the amino acid leucine, to the diets. For two years, researchers measured how much insulin participants produced. Although they still needed supplemental insulin, doctors said the chances of diabetic complications were lower because the children continued to produce some of their own insulin.
Reference: Diabetes Care; 2013, Vol. 36, No. 7, 1842-50

Omega-3s reduce insulin resistance
About half of obese children are insulin resistant, meaning the insulin they produce does not metabolize food efficiently. In this study, 201 obese and insulin-resistant children took 1,800 mg of omega-3s, or 500 mg of the blood-sugar control drug metformin, per day. Metformin helps reduce insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. The children were similar in age, insulin resistance, and body mass index scores at the start of the study.
After 12 weeks, while there was little change in the metformin group, children who had taken omega-3s had much lower circulating levels of glucose and insulin, indicating less insulin resistance.
For lipids, metformin raised HDL, and lowered LDL—the good and bad cholesterols, respectively—but total triglycerides were unchanged. The omega-3 group had significantly lower levels of triglycerides, reducing chances of developing type 2 diabetes, doctors said.
For body mass index scores, those in the metformin group saw a slight improvement while children in the omega-3 group had significantly lower, and healthier, body mass index scores.
Reference: Pediatric Diabetes; 2013, Vol. 14, No. 3, 377-83

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