How many compounds in foods could help reduce the risk of insulin resistance ? Scientists are currently working on this question in a bid to pinpoint which food components could protect human beings from becoming insulin-resistant.
About 16 million Americans are insulin-resistant, which means that they are unable to properly use insulin to get energy-rich glucose from their blood into their cells.
Cells need glucose, derived from foods, as a source of energy. Without glucose, cells are unable to do the specialised jobs that keep us alive. Insulin resistance often leads to type 2 diabetes, a common form of diabetes in the United States and in Europe.
To determine which food compounds could help forestall this kind of diabetes, scientists at the US Agricultural Research Service have developed insulin-resistant laboratory hamsters and are using them in novel experiments. Insulin resistance occurred in the lab animals within only a few weeks after the researchers put the hamsters on a high-fat diet and, according to the researchers, the diet was similar - in proportion - to the amount of fat that most Americans eat every day. Direct and indirect costs of diabetes are estimated to be at least $98 billion annually.
With this first phase completed, the researchers - Qiming Shao and Wallace H. Yokoyama - are currently trying to determine which food components could protect the animals from becoming insulin-resistant. Although the scientists stress that insulin-resistant laboratory animals are not new, the researchers maintain that they are likely to be the first to develop this condition in hamsters and rats simply by increasing the amount of fat that the animals consumed.