Researchers from Chalmers University of Technology and Sahlgrenska
Academy, University of Gothenburg, have found that several diet and
nutrient biomarkers – molecules that can be measured in blood that are
related to diet – are linked with both risk to have type 2 diabetes and
future risk of developing diabetes.
The study, published in the
leading nutrition research journal American Journal of Clinical
Nutrition, was carried out on 600 women from Gothenburg where diagnosis
of diabetes was made at the start of the study, at their age 64, and
again after 5 ½ years.
The results underline that diet is an
important factor when it comes to risk for developing type 2 diabetes,
with fish, whole grains, vegetable oils and good vitamin E status found
to be protective against type 2 diabetes, while red meat and saturated
fat increased the risk for developing the disease.
really important is that we were able to reach these conclusions without
having any additional information on diet from the subjects”, said lead
author Doctor Otto Savolainen, who works at the Division of Food and
Nutrition Science and the Chalmers Mass Spectrometry Infrastructure at
Chalmers University of Technology.
The blood samples were analysed
at Chalmers, where a unique metabolic fingerprint, including many
different diet biomarkers, could be linked to each woman at the specific
time the sample was taken. Using this method it was possible for the
first time to objectively determine the impact of key dietary components
on future type 2 diabetes risk, as well as to find differences in
dietary patterns between women with and without type 2 diabetes.
information about diet can be complicated and time consuming, and is
always biased by what people remember and think they should report.
Dietary biomarkers don’t have this problem, and highlight that dietary
recommendations to avoid red meat and saturated fat and increase intake
of plant-based oils and whole grains do seem to hold true, at least in
this group of women”, says Associate Professor Alastair Ross,
responsible senior researcher at Chalmers, at the Division of Food and
“The new method has allowed us to measure
several markers of diet and nutrient status at the same time in a large
number of people, which we believe is the first time this has been
done”, he says.
Although the role of diet is often discussed as a
preventative measure for developing type 2 diabetes, this new research
provides strong support for dietary guidelines, and underlines the
importance of changing diet to improve health.
“New methods such
as ours will help to improve how we measure diet and understand in more
detail how dietary patterns relate to disease”, says Alastair Ross.
Video: We know what you eat!
short video on researchers’ new ability to objectively measure what
people eat, and the impact this cutting edge technology may have for
individuals, researchers and society at large: We know what you eat!
More about this research
Read the article published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Biomarkers
of food intake and nutrient status are associated with glucose
tolerance status and development of type 2 diabetes in older Swedish
The study was made in the Diwa cohort (Diabetes and
Impaired glucose tolerance in Women and Atherosclerosis), an earlier
study run by Björn Fagerberg and Göran Bergström, Institute of Medicine
at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.
Text: Christian Borg
Photo: Johan Bodell