1 July 2011

News Briefs

Little evidence that increasing soy improves BGLs
In a meta-analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition evaluating the effects of soy foods and supplements on glycemic control Dr Suzanne Ho and colleagues conclude that: ‘there was not a significant overall effect of soy intake on improvements of fasting glucose and insulin concentrations; however, a favorable change in fasting glucose concentrations was observed in studies that used whole soy foods.’

Reduced fat intake may reduce diabetes risk without weight loss
‘What is important about this study,’ says Prof Barbara Gower, ‘is that the results suggest that diet quality, not quantity, can make a difference in risk for type 2 diabetes.’ The researchers provided 69 healthy overweight individuals with one of two calorically identical diets for eight weeks – either a reduced carbohydrate, higher fat diet (43% carbohydrate, 39% fat), or a standard diet of 55% carbohydrate and 27% fat. At the end of the study, those on the lower-fat diet had significantly higher insulin secretion and better glucose tolerance and tended to have higher insulin sensitivity. The researchers took into account any minor fluctuations in weight during the study, and provided participants with the amount of food necessary to maintain weight.

Tossing and turning? You may need to up your high GI carbs


Eating high GI and high GL meals increased the availability of tryptophan in healthy volunteers reports a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. ‘These findings may have clinical relevance for management of conditions where increased serotonin production is considered beneficial, primarily for promotion of sleep in patients with insomnia). Specific research would be required to assess the risk–benefit of using high-GI meals to promote sleep against current strategies for clinical management of insomnia,’ conclude the authors. ‘It’s still early days,’ says Prof Jennie-Brand-Miller, ‘and needs to be confirmed by larger, long-term studies before recommending people with sleep problems, many of whom may well have diabetes or pre-diabetes, start experimenting with high GI meals.’

Does it matter where your protein comes from?
‘In the small amount of literature available there is no striking evidence that the one protein source is preferable to another in weight-reducing programs. However, animal proteins, especially those from dairy, seem to support better muscle protein synthesis than plant proteins. This could potentially enhance energy expenditure, but no conclusion can be drawn from the scant evidence. Some studies, but not all, demonstrate the higher satiating effect of whey and fish proteins than other protein sources.’ Nutrition, Metabolism & Cardiovascular Diseases.

Enjoy pears
Juicy, sweet pears are one of the world’s most loved fruits (we are all fans here) and this year’s Australian crop is a bumper one. ‘The past few seasons have brought anguish for many growers with the Black Saturday bushfires, flooding and inclement weather almost decimating crops,’ says fourth generation grower Gary Godwill. ‘To get pears to harvest this year we battled rain and flooding, and had our pickers wading through water just to get to the trees. However, we’ve been rewarded with the early Williams’ pear crop up by 60% compared to last year and the current Packham’s harvest expected to be large and one of best quality crops we’ve ever seen.’


Pears (GI38) are a healthy snack rich in fibre and vitamin C. They have a low GI because they are high in fibre and most of their sugar is fructose. Although the flavour of a fresh pear on its own is hard to beat, here are some tips to up your intake:

  • Poach or bake them in a light syrup or red wine with a touch of cardamom.
  • Think outside the square by baking them with spices, roasting them with meat, or adding them to bruschetta.
  • Toss firmer pears in salads with walnuts and greens (witlof and rocket go well).
  • Pop softer pears into a soup or smoothie for added flavour.
Bookshelf: The CSIRO and Baker IDI Diabetes Diet and Lifestyle Plan

Diabetes Diet and Lifestyle Plan

CSIRO and Baker IDI joined forces with Julie Gibbs’ ever-creative team at Penguin Australia to produce this attractive guide to managing type 2 diabetes (or reducing your risk of getting it). They offer two dietary approaches – Option 1 is a higher protein plan; Option 2 has a little less protein and a little more carbohydrate – and four kilojoule-restricted plans. To get you started, there are 6-week (6500kJ) plans for both Option 1 and Option 2 and around 80 recipes, many photographed.

The recipes don’t come with a familiar nutritional analysis, instead they tell you the units (based on kilojoules) of protein, vegetables, ‘bread’ (by this they mean starchy vegetables and grains), fats, dairy and fruit per serve. If you find counting your carbs the best way to manage your BGLs and spread your carbs evenly over the day, you’ll find this approach novel as the ‘bread’, ‘dairy’ and ‘fruit’ units are based on kilojoules not that familiar 10–15 gram carb exchange.

We asked Alan Barclay if this would matter. ‘It’s not that different in the real world to 10–15 gram carb exchanges – and probably both models would achieve similar results. But it won’t work for those counting grams of carbs of course, like those using insulin pumps.’