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Seared tuna with butter beans and roasted tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 180ºC / 350ºF / gas mark 4. Mix together the cumin, coriander seeds and chilli flakes, press into both sides of the tuna and set aside for 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small pan and fry the onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to an ovenproof dish with the butter beans and tomatoes, place in the oven for 30 minutes until the tomatoes begin to char. Heat a griddle pan until smoking and sear the tuna for about 1 m ...

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25 Jul 2012
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Novel eye monitor can spot early signs of diabetic neuropathy
Cases of diabetes-related neuropathy could soon be detected at an early stage, when it can be treated more easily and effectively, using new state-of-the-art optical technology. Researchers from the National Taiwan University Hospital and National Chiao-Tung University say they have developed a wearable device that can test for autonomic neuropathy (nerve damage) in patients with diabetes. Diabetic autonomic neuropathy is a common complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It progressively affects the nerves that control vital organs including the heart and gastrointestinal system, and can lead to serious health problems if left untreated. Current screening methods often fail to pick up the condition in its early stages - before the onset of moderate nerve damage and organ dysfunction - as they rely on observing changes in digestive speed, blood pressure and heart rate over time. But the development of a small, lightweight, wearable device called a pupillometer could improve early detection of the disease, leading to better treatment and health outcomes. "Compared to the existing diagnostic techniques, the pupillometer is a more reliable, effective, portable and inexpensive solution," said lead researcher Mang Ou-Yang of National Chiao-Tung University. In a paper published today in The Optical Society (OSA)'s journal Applied Optics, Ou-Yang and colleagues explain that the prototype device, which mounts onto the front of a pair of glasses, monitors the patient’s pupils using a tiny camera to detect the earliest signs of diabetic autonomic neuropathy. Designed to be worn for around half an hour during physician appointments the pupillometer works by emitting coloured lights to stimulate the pupil. An attached beam splitter then filters the visible light that is reflected from the eye to the device’s camera, which processes the images to analyse the pupil’s diameter and response time. Clinical trials of the pupillometer are ongoing and future research by Ou-Yang and his team will investiage reducing the size of the device and expanding the device's abilities to observe two pupils at the same time. If current and future trials are successful, the pupillometer could become available by the end of the decade.
Sitting for leisure greatly influences diabetes risk
A study of British civil servants shows that sitting for over 25 hours a week during non-working hours can increase the risk of becoming obese fourfold compared with people who are more active. Researchers from University College London (UCL) analysed 3,670 civil servants. The study participants were largely male (73%) and had an average age of 56 years old. Levels of sitting and physical activity were assessed by a questionnaire taken between 1997 and 1999. Participants were then monitored for more than 10 years. The results showed that people who sat down, for over 25 hours during their leisure time and exercised less than 90 minutes had a four times higher risk of developing obesity than participants who spent less than 12 hours of their weekly leisure time sitting and exercised for more than 4 hours per week. Whilst most of us understand that being more active decreases the likelihood of becoming obese, and in turn decreases the risks type 2 diabetes risk, heart disease and other long term health conditions, it is striking to see how much of an effect sitting for long periods can have. If you are concerned about how long you are sitting for in your leisure time, or you are unsure how long you are sitting for, you may want to keep a diary of how long you sit for during a week and how long you are exercising. If you are sitting for a longer duration, set yourself a target to reduce your sitting and increase your activity instead.
Newly found widespread gut virus may be connected to obesity and diabetes
A previously unknown virus that is present in more than half of the human population has been discovered by scientists in America, who claim it could play a vital role in the development of obesity and diabetes. The newly described virus dubbed crAssphage, after the software that identified it, was uncovered by biologists at San Diego State University when analysing results from previous studies to screen for new viruses. Their research found that crAssphage infects one of the most common types of gut bacteria thought to be associated with obesity, diabetes and other gut-related diseases. And because it was shown to be so widespread - residing in the guts of more than half of the world's population - the scientists suggest it is likely to be as old as the human race. "We've basically found it in every population we've looked at. As far as we can tell, it's as old as humans are," explained bioinformatics professor and co-author of the study, Robert A. Edwards. "It's not unusual to go looking for a novel virus and find one. But it's very unusual to find one that so many people have in common. The fact that it's flown under the radar for so long is very strange." Viruses replicate by hijacking the cells of living organisms. In the case of crAssphage, Prof Edwards and colleagues determined that their novel virus latches on to the cells of a common class of gut bacteria called Bacteroidetes. Bacteroidetes live towards the end of the intestinal tract and are believed to play a significant role in obesity. Whether crAssphage has a part in that process is unclear. But if it does, the researchers believe that by isolating it, the virus could be used to help prevent obesity or alleviate other diseases affected by the gut, such as diabetes. "This could be a key to personalised phage medicine," Prof Edwards added. "In individuals, we could isolate your particular strain of the virus, manipulate it to target harmful bacteria, then give it back to you." The research was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.
6 second bursts of flat out exercise lowers blood pressure by 9 per cent
Bursts of six seconds high intensity exercise has been shown to significantly improve blood pressure levels in the elderly, and is likely to have similar benefits for younger people. Researchers from Abertay University in Dundee studied pensioners to see how they would respond to a form of exercise, called high intensity training (HIT), which involves very short but strenuous activity separated by resting periods. Participants were fitted with a heart rate monitor and took to an exercise bike for a flat out six second sprint. Following the sprint, the participants rested for a minimum of 1 minute and were directed to not start another sprint until their heart rate had settled to under 120 beats per minute. The participants took part in two high intensity training sessions a week, which was maintained over six weeks. During the initial sessions, participants performed six sprints with resting in between, which was steadily increased to ten sprints by the end of the six weeks study period. Results of the training were compared to control subjects which were not taking part in high intensity training. The researchers found that those that those taking part in the six second exercise bike sprints reduced their blood pressure levels by a very encouraging 9%. High blood pressure levels are a risk factor for heart disease, and also for increased risks of diabetes complications, therefore interventions such as high intensity activity represents a healthier alternative to blood pressure medications, which have side effects. The researchers, which have also carried out previous studies in HIT, are now planning larger studies to confirm the benefits of the high intensity exercise. If the benefits are reflected in larger clinical studies, it could see more elderly people, as well more people in general, taking part in short bursts rather than sustained periods of exercise.
More herbs found to have anti diabetic benefits
New research suggests that commonly used herbs like rosemary and oregano have the potential to treat type 2 diabetes. A number of recent studies have shown certain herbal extracts such as cinnamon, bitter melon and ginger to have various blood sugar-controlling properties, adding to evidence that they could be used as a powerful, natural tool to help tackle type 2 diabetes. To investigate further, Elvira Gonzalez de Mejia, a professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois, USA, and colleagues investigated the properties of Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare), marjoram (Origanum majorana), rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis), and Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens). Extracts of these plants (both greenhouse-grown and commercial, dried forms) were prepared and examined for their ability to stop a pair of enzymes called DPP-4 and PTP1B, which are targets of drug treatments for type 2 diabetes - for example, DPP-4 inhibitors such as metformin and sitagliptin. After examining the herbs, Prof. de Mejia and colleagues found that herbs grown in a greenhouse contained more powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols and flavonoids than commercial, dried versions, and were the most effective at inhibiting DPP-IV. Extracts of commercially dried rosemary, Mexican oregano, and marjoram were the best at inhibiting PTP1B. While the results are promising, the team said further clinical studies are needed to determine how effective these compounds can be in preventing and treating type 2 diabetes in humans. The preliminary findings were published in June in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
Shift work linked with 37 per cent increased risk of diabetes in men
A review of a number of observational studies show shift work to be linked with an increase in rates of diabetes. Researchers from the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China performed a meta-analysis of 12 different observational studies. In total 226,652 participants were reviewed including 14,595 of which that developed diabetes. The researchers found that shift work schedules were associated with a 9% greater risks of diabetes than non-shift working. Men were shown to be at greater risk than women. Men who worked shifts had a 37% increased risk of diabetes. Workers who had rotating shifts, alternating between day and night shifts had a 42% increased risk of diabetes. The study did not attempt to identify reasons for the cause in increased diabetes risk, however, there are possible explanations for why shift work may increase diabetes risk. Changes in sleeping patterns can affect hormone levels which may play a part. Having varied meal times is likely to make meal planning more difficult and could increase reliance on instant meals which are likely to be more energy dense and less nutritious than home cooked meals. People that are working shifts should be aware that there may be increased risks of diabetes. It is important to ensure you take regular physical activity and eat healthy, balanced meals. It is advisable not to be over-reliant on processed foods. Also be aware of the symptoms of diabetes so that, if diabetes develops, it can be diagnosed at an early stage to reduce the harm that undiagnosed diabetes can cause.
Community pharmacies key to tackling type 2 diabetes
A new report has highlighted the important role community pharmacies in the UK can have in helping to identify people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Published online in the International Journal of Pharmacy Practice, the report states that community pharmacies have the potential to help combat the country's diabetes epidemic by assisting the NHS in detecting individuals at high risk of type 2 diabetes or early-stage cases of the disease where treatments can be easier and more effective. The report is based on research conducted by the University of East Anglia which examined the outcomes of patients accessing the Diabetes UK Type 2 risk assessment in Boots UK pharmacies. During the first nine months of the in-store health initiative, which launched in January 2013, more than 21,000 risk assessments were carried out in 1,513 Boots UK chemists nationwide. Peter Bainbridge, director of pharmacy for Boots UK, said data pooled from over 3,500 of these assessments showed the risk tests "play an important role in supporting early detection, so patients can take steps to prevent or take control of the condition sooner." "As the prevention and management of long term conditions such as diabetes continues to dominate the public health agenda, this research demonstrates the overall value community pharmacy can offer, providing convenient access to healthcare support and reducing the strain on the NHS," he added. Simon O'Neill, Director of Health Intelligence at Diabetes UK, commented: "It is great that risk assessments for type 2 diabetes are now available on the high street. It is really important that people get a risk assessment so that if they are at high risk they can start getting the help they need to reduce their risk, while if they have undiagnosed type 2 they can start getting the support that can help get it under control. "I would urge people to have their risk assessed if they are overweight, over 40, or over 25 if they are from a South Asian background, or have a close relative with diabetes."
People with more brown fat better able to control blood sugar
Researchers have known that brown fat has an influence on metabolism but a recent study has shown that in addition to burning calories, brown fat can also help with reducing blood glucose levels. Researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) reviewed the effects brown fat had on metabolism in 12 healthy men. The effects of burning calories and sensitivity to insulin were monitored during resting periods at room temperature as well as when they rested at cooler temperatures of 18-21 Celsius for a period of 5-8 hours. The men that had higher amounts of brown fat in their bodies were able to burn 15% more calories in cooler temperatures than those with less brown fat. The result was that the men with more brown fat would be able to burn 300 calories more if sat in cooler temperatures over the course of a day. In addition, the researchers showed that the subjects with more brown fat were not just burning calories but burning off blood sugar too. Participants with more brown fat would burn off 25g more of sugar through a day in cooler temperatures than those with less brown fat. The participants with more brown fat benefited from increased energy expenditure, glucose usage and increased insulin sensitivity which were not experienced in the group with lower amounts of brown fat. Because of its calorie and glucose burning properties, brown fat represents an interesting area of diabetes research. One class of drugs, thiazolidazines (TZDs), which include the controversial drugs Actos and Avandia, have previously been shown to be able to turn white fat cells into brown fat cells.
High salt diet doubles heart disease risk in diabetes patients
People with type 2 diabetes who consume lots of salt in their diet may be putting themselves at a significantly higher risk for developing heart disease, according to a new study. The research warns that diets high in sodium can double the risk of heart attack or stroke in people with type 2 diabetes, with the risk rising even higher for those with poor blood glucose control. "The study’s findings provide clear scientific evidence supporting low-sodium diets to reduce the rate of heart disease among people with diabetes," said study author Dr Chika Horikawa, a registered dietician from the University of Niigata Prefecture in Niigata, Japan. "Although many guidelines recommend people with diabetes reduce their salt intake to lower the risk of complications, this study is among the first large longitudinal studies to demonstrate the benefits of a low-sodium diet in this population." For the study, Horikawa and colleagues surveyed 1,588 type 2 diabetic participants aged 40 to 70, who were part of the Japan Diabetes Complication Study, about their dietary habits, particularly their intake of salt. The participants were then followed over a period of 8 years to see who developed heart problems. They results showed that people who ate an average of 5.9g of salt each day - the maximum daily intake recommended for the general population in the UK is 6g - were twice as likely to develop heart disease as those who consumed 2.8g of sodium daily, on average. And for people with poorly managed type 2 diabetes on a high-salt diet, the risk of cardiovascular complications soared nearly 10-fold. "Our findings demonstrate that restricting salt in the diet could help prevent dangerous complications from diabetes," Dr Horikawa added. The study was published July 22 in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.
Diabetes drug Actos associated with lower rates of Alzheimers disease
A study of over 100,000 people from German healthcare records show the type 2 diabetes drug, pioglitazone, to be linked with lower rates of Alzheimer's disease. Actos is in a class of drugs called thiazolidinediones, or TZDs for short. These drugs work by increasing the body's sensitivity to insulin. Whilst thiazolidinediones have been shown to improve blood glucose control, researchers have been interested to understand whether this has benefits for the brain, particularly with regard to preventing or delaying forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease. The researchers, from the German Centre for Neurodegenerative Diseases reviewed around 146,000 health records of people over 60 years of age that had no previous signs of dementia. Whilst nearly 1 in 10 people (13,841 participants) developed dementia between the years 2004 and 2010, rates of dementia amongst those taking pioglitazone (Actos) were significantly lower. The results back up findings from previous studies that have also indicated reduced risks of dementia. Whilst the findings appear to show benefits for the drug, medical organisations will need to see clear evidence that the drug can prevent Alzheimers before it can be recommended, particularly as the side effects of Actos include a slightly increased risk of bladder cancer. The manufacturers of the drug, Takeda, are currently running a five year clinical trial to see whether pioglitazone can delay the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease.