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Dr. Jason Wu of The George Institute for Global Health in Sydney is the lead author on this latest study about the effects of diet on Type 2 Diabetes. They study revealed that eating a diet rich in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats can significantly reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a growing epidemic worldwide. The most troubling part about it is that Type 2 diabetes is preventable through healthy diet and lifestyle.

What is Diabetes?

One might hear about diabetes quite a bit but may not know what it is exactly. Diabetes is defined by the World Health Organization as, “a chronic disease that occurs either when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. Hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar, is a common effect of uncontrolled diabetes and over time leads to serious damage to many of the body’s systems, especially the nerves and blood vessels.” For people with diabetes, the increase in blood sugar acts like a poison.

3 Types of Diabetes

There are three types of diabetes: Type 1 Diabetes, Type 2 Diabetes, and Gestational Diabetes.

  • Type 1 diabetes is characterized by a lack of insulin production.
  • Type 2 diabetes is characterized from the body’s ineffective use of insulin.
  • Type 3 diabetes occurs during pregnancy and is characterized by hyperglycaemia, or raised blood sugar. Women with gestational diabetes are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Facts about Diabetes from the World Health Organization

  • Diabetes is predicted to become the 7th leading cause of death worldwide by 2030.
  • Total deaths from diabetes are projected to increase more than 50% in the next 10 years.
  • Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90% of all diabetes worldwide.
  • Reports of Type 2 Diabetes in children have increased worldwide.
  • Diabetes has become one of the major causes of premature illness and death in most countries.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of blindness, amputation, and kidney failure.
  • The most important fact is that Type 2 Diabetes can be prevented. Maintaining a healthy diet and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most days drastically reduces your risk.
  • 46.3 % of the estimate 387 million people living with diabetes in the world are undiagnosed.
  • That is 1 in every 12 people worldwide have diabetes.
  • 1 in 2 people do not know they have it.
  • Every 7 seconds one person dies from diabetes.
  • In 2014, 4.9 million deaths were attributed to diabetes.
  • $1 out of every $9 spent on healthcare is spent on diabetes.
  • In 2014, diabetes expenditures reached $612 billion.

Study Details

This research study, which was published in Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, brought to light some new information about the health benefits of omega-6 rich foods. Dr. Wu explains, “Our findings suggest that a simple change in diet might protect people from developing type 2 diabetes which has reached alarming levels around the world.” This contradicts other theories that omega-6 foods could have negative health effects including inflammation that leads to chronic diseases.  However, the results from this latest, large global study demonstrates little evidence of harm from omega-6 fat and it found that it is linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Food rich in omega-6 acids include:

  • Bean and seed oils.
  • Soybean and sunflower oils
  • Nuts

Researchers analysed data from 20 studies involving 39,740 adults from 10 countries, in whom 4,347 new cases of diabetes occurred over time. These included adults with a wide range of ages and without any diagnosis of type 2 diabetes at the onset of the studies, when they were laboratory tested for levels of two key omega-6 markers – linoleic acid and arachidonic acid. Linoleic acid was associated with lower risk, while levels of arachidonic acid were not significantly associated with either higher or lower risk of diabetes. “Linoleic acid is not formed in the body, so it can only be obtained through diet,” explains Dr. Wu. Professor Dariush Mozaffarian, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Massachusetts is a senior author of the study. He explains, “The people involved in the study were generally healthy and were not given specific guidance on what to eat. Yet those who had the highest levels of blood omega-6 markers had a much lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.”

Warning Signs for Diabetes

There are clear warning signs that you might be in danger of getting Type 2 diabetes. The important thing to know is that it is preventable and early detection is important. When you visit your doctor for an annual checkup, a simple blood test can determine if you have diabetes, or a pre-diabetic, meaning that you can still prevent it from happening with diet and exercise.

Even if the diagnosis cannot be reversed, early detection can help halt progression of the disease and prevent further complications from occurring. Unfortunately, the warning signs are sometimes not alarming and can be common so diagnosis can go undetected. Here are the symptoms to look for that are warning signs for diabetes:

  • Urinating often
  • Feeling very thirsty
  • Dry mouth
  • Feeling very hungry – even though you are eating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Fainting
  • Blurry vision
  • Cuts/bruises that are slow to heal
  • Unexplained weight loss (type 1)
  • Tingling, pain, or numbness in the hands/feet (type 2)
  • Frequent yeast infections

About George Clinical

In 2007, The George Institute for Global Health launched George Clinical, a leading contract research organisation (CRO) in Asia. George Clinical is the first and largest commercial enterprise from the institute. George Clinical is headquartered in Sydney, Australia but has operational hubs in ten other countries. George Clinical delivers the full-range of clinical trial services across all trial phases and in a variety of therapeutic specializations. George Clinical has contributed directly to several landmark clinical trials, the results of which have changed clinical practice. In addition to testing medications, a large part of their clinical research studies are about food and how unhealthy food intake negatively affects overall health and how that impacts cardiovascular health, diabetes, and stroke in patients around the world.