New diabetes breakthrough ‘bigger than the discovery of insulin’

New diabetes breakthrough 'bigger than the discovery of insulin'

In this April 29, 2012, file photo, a 19-year-old diagnosed with diabetes gives herself an injection of insulin at her home in the Los Angeles suburb of Commerce. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

There’s no known cure for Type 1 diabetes, so for 3 million Americans, an insulin pump or regular insulin injections form an imperfect and temporary solution. And it’s one that doesn’t always keep some of the disease’s worst outcomes, including blindness and limb amputation, at bay.

Scientists have long sought a better solution, and a team at Harvard is now announcing that, 15 years into its research, it has successfully coaxed human embryonic stem cells into ones that produce insulin.

When those cells were transferred to diabetic mice, they behaved as healthy cells do and regulated blood sugar. “We can cure their diabetes right away—in less than 10 days,” researcher Doug Melton tells NPR.

Six months later, that was still the case, reports CBS News, which calls the research possibly “the biggest breakthrough in years toward a cure.” Because while scientists have been able to achieve a similar end with insulin-producing cells sourced from cadavers, they’ve struggled with how to get the quantity they needed.

Now researchers have “the ability to make hundreds of millions of cells,” Melton says. “It’s a huge landmark paper,” an outside researcher tells NPR. “I would say it’s bigger than the discovery of insulin.” For Melton, the issue is deeply personal: Both his children, now in their 20s, were diagnosed with the disease as kids.

Among the next steps is to move to clinical trials in humans, possibly in as few as three years. (Another announcement related to blood sugar made waves last month.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Huge Breakthrough in Quest for Type 1 Diabetes Cure

Healthy Eating Plate

Harvard serves up its own ‘Plate’

Healthy Eating Plate shows shortcomings in government’s MyPlate

By Todd Datz

Harvard School of Public Health Communications

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Healthy Eating Plate, a visual guide that provides a blueprint for eating a healthy meal, was unveiled today by nutrition experts atHarvard School of Public Health (HSPH) in conjunction with colleagues at Harvard Health Publications. Similar to the U.S. government’sMyPlate, the Healthy Eating Plate is simple and easy to understand — and it addresses important deficiencies in the MyPlate icon.

“Unfortunately, like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating,” said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at HSPH.  “The Healthy Eating Plate is based on the best available scientific evidence and provides consumers with the information they need to make choices that can profoundly affect our health and well-being.”

Comparing the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate with the USDA’s MyPlate shows the shortcomings in the government’s guide. MyPlate does not tell consumers that whole grains are better for health than refined grains; its protein section offers no indication that some high-protein foods — fish, poultry, beans, nuts — are healthier than red meats and processed meats; it is silent on beneficial fats; it does not distinguish between potatoes and other vegetables; it recommends dairy at every meal, even though there is little evidence that high dairy intake protects against osteoporosis but substantial evidence that high intake can be harmful; and it says nothing about sugary drinks. Finally, the Healthy Eating Plate reminds people to stay active, an important factor in weight control, while MyPlate does not mention the importance of activity.

“Unfortunately, like the earlier U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) pyramids, MyPlate mixes science with the influence of powerful agricultural interests, which is not the recipe for healthy eating,” said Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. Justin Ide/Harvard Staff Photographer

The Healthy Eating Plate shows that a plant-based diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats, and healthy proteins lowers the risk of weight gain and chronic disease. Helping Americans get the best possible nutrition advice is of critical importance as the U.S. and the world face a burgeoning obesity epidemic. Currently, two in three adults and one in three children are overweight or obese in the U.S.

“We want people to use this as a model for their own healthy plate or that of their children every time they sit down to a meal—either at home or at a restaurant,” said Eric Rimm, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition at HSPH and a member of the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee.

The sections of the Healthy Eating Plate include:

Vegetables: Eat an abundant variety, the more the better. Limited consumption of potatoes is recommended, however, as they are full of rapidly digested starch, which has the same roller-coaster effect on blood sugar as refined grains and sweets. In the short-term, these surges in blood sugar and insulin lead to hunger and overeating, and in the long term, to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic disorders.

Fruits: Choose a rainbow of fruits every day.

Whole grains: Choose whole grains, such as oatmeal, whole wheat bread, and brown rice. Refined grains, such as white bread and white rice, act like sugar in the body. Eating too many refined grains can raise the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Healthy proteins: Choose fish, poultry, beans, or nuts, which contain healthful nutrients. Limit red meat and avoid processed meats, because eating even small quantities of these on a regular basis raises the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, colon cancer, and weight gain.

Healthy oils: Use olive, canola, and other plant oils in cooking, on salads, and at the table, because these healthy fats reduce harmful cholesterol and are good for the heart. Limit butter and avoid trans fat.

Water: Drink water, tea, or coffee (with little or no sugar). Limit milk and dairy (1-2 servings per day), and juice (1 small glass a day), and avoid sugary drinks.

The sizes of the sections suggest approximate relative proportions of each of the food groups to include on a healthy plate. They are not based on specific calorie amounts, and they are not meant to prescribe a certain number of calories or servings per day, because these numbers vary from person to person. The aim of the Healthy Eating Plate is to illustrate one way to put together a healthy meal that fits within the guidelines of the Healthy Eating Pyramid, which was created by nutrition experts at HSPH in 2001 and updated in 2008. (Read about the Healthy Eating Pyramid on the HSPH Nutrition Source website.)

“One of the most important fields of medical science over the past 50 years is the research that shows just how powerfully our health is affected by what we eat. Knowing what foods to eat and in what proportions is crucial for health. The evidence-based Healthy Eating Plate shows this in a way that is very simple to understand,” said Anthony Komaroff, professor of medicine atHarvard Medical School and editor in chief of Harvard Health Publications.

To download a pdf of the Healthy Eating Plate.

Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source

I found the following on the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source.  Thanks to the people at Harvard for a simple, high quality explanation on nutrition.  It can get confusing out there for us regular folk who hear so many conflicting stories.

From the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source:

The answer to the question “What should I eat?” is actually pretty simple. But you wouldn’t know that from news reports on diet and nutrition studies, whose sole purpose seems to be to confuse people on a daily basis. When it comes down to it, though—when all the evidence is looked at together—the best nutrition advice on what to eat is relatively straightforward: Eat a plant-based diet rich in fruits,vegetables, and whole grains; choose foods with healthy fats, like olive and canola oil, nuts and fatty fish; limit red meat and foods that are high in saturated fat; and avoid foods that contain trans fats. Drink water and other healthy beverages, and limit sugary drinks and salt. Most important of all is keeping calories in check, so you can avoid weight gain, which makes exercise a key partner to a healthy diet.

Want to learn more? Use the Healthy Eating Pyramid, created by the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, as your guide to choosing a healthy diet, and the new Healthy Eating Plate as a handy blueprint for a healthy meal. 

Healthy Eating: Ten Nutrition Tips for Eating Right

Carbohydrates Choose good carbs, not no carbs. Whole grains are your best bet.
 Protein Pay attention to the protein package. Fish, poultry, nuts, and beans are the best choices.
 Fats Choose foods with healthy fats, limit foods high in saturated fat, and avoid foods with trans fat. Plant oils, nuts, and fish are the healthiest sources.
 Fiber Choose a fiber-filled diet, rich in whole grainsvegetables, and fruits.
 Vegetables and Fruits Eat more vegetables and fruits. Go for color and variety—dark green, yellow, orange, and red.
 Milk Calcium is important. But milk isn’t the only, or even best, source.
 Healthier Drinks (healthier-drinks-new.jpg) Water is best to quench your thirst. Skip the sugary drinks, and go easy on the milk and juice.
 Lower Salt & Sodium (salt-new-icon.jpg) Eating less salt is good for everyone’s health. Choose more fresh foods and fewer processed foods.
 Alcohol Moderate drinking can be healthy—but not for everyone. You must weigh the benefits and risks.
 Vitamins daily multivitamin is a great nutrition insurance policy. Some extra vitamin Dmay add an extra health boost.

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The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source is to provide timely information on diet and nutrition for clinicians, allied health professionals, and the public. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The information does not mention brand names, nor does it endorse any particular products.